Em and Em: Dashes Two Ways


I've been seeing a lot of double-hyphens used as em dashes lately -- like this. That's okay in a pinch, but a real computer-generated em dash — like this — looks more professional. On a Mac computer, make one by holding down the Shift and Option keys they hitting the minus sign. On a PC, hold down Control and Alt then hit the minus sign. You can also set your computer's autocorrect to change double hyphens to em dashes, too.

If you want to emulate the style used by most news media, Associated Press style, put a space on either side of the dash — like this. If you want your writing to look more like it was published in a book, follow the Chicago Manual of Style and omit the spaces—like this.

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