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Feb 17, 2019 02:01:36

Using dash — in writing

by @davidnge | 262 words | 🐣 | 104💌

David nge

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If you ever wondered when do you use the long dash (—) instead of the short one (-) then this post is going to clarify a bit for you.

In short, the short dash is called the hyphen

While the long dash, also called the em dash, is used when you want to expand on a sentence for clarification.

There's one thing I hate on the McDonald's menu—double cheeseburger.

Sometimes we add clarification at the end of a sentence in a parenthesis.

After three weeks on set, the cast was fed up with his direction (or, rather, lack of direction).

If you think ending a sentence with parenthesis looks a bit clunky, you can replace it with the dash.

After three weeks on set, the cast was fed up with his direction—or, rather, lack of direction.

You can also add dash in the middle of a sentence:

Molly (David's adopted beagle) just chewed away the sofa.

Molly, David's adopted beagle, just chewed away the sofa.

Molly—David's adopted beagle—just chewed away the sofa.

Of the three sentences above, the third one (with the dash) stands out the most. So whenever you're writing clarifications in the middle of the sentence and you want to put emphasis on it, use the dash. 

A couple notes though:

- There's no space before and after the dash

- Use the dash sparingly. Avoid using it more than once in a sentence, it'll make the sentence hard to read.

- You can type the long dash with Ctrl+Alt+Minus (on Windows) and option+shift+minus (on Mac).


  • 1

    @davidnge same here. This is the first time to learn explictly how to add clarification. Thank you.

    Hiro avatar Hiro | Feb 16, 2019 20:57:57
    • 1

      @hiro thanks!

      David nge avatar David nge | Feb 18, 2019 04:41:45
  • 1

    @davidnge thank you for explaining em dash. When I start writing I start to notice that em dash used by a lot of writer and I thought I should try it since comma and period become too common.

    I thought using em dash you just have to put 2 dashes like this (--). I was amazed that it was different when you used the shortcut in mac it become like this (—)

    Chris 🤔🇵🇭 avatar Chris 🤔🇵🇭 | Feb 17, 2019 11:02:56
    • 1

      @chrisdeuda if you use microsoft word, typing -- will automatically be formatted to — i think. anyway, it's cool to use em dash in the right context :)

      David nge avatar David nge | Feb 18, 2019 04:43:22
    • 1

      @davidnge cool it seems Microsoft get it right. I mostly use some software that uses Markdown so it's not automatically converted. Anyways thank you for sharing =)

      Chris 🤔🇵🇭 avatar Chris 🤔🇵🇭 | Feb 18, 2019 16:39:02
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