According to Merriam Webster Online
, an em dash is 1/6 of an inch wide. An en dash is half the width of an em dash.
Thanks Macsm, good idea to check online. But wouldn't the size depend on the typeface size... like a 16 pt. vs an 8 pt.? I thought the em was supposed to be the width of an "m" and an en was the size of an "n". Maybe Merriam means in 12 pt. or whatever is standard for publications.
Piffka, The double hyphen translates to an em dash. Em dashes can be used to indicate a break in thought.
I waited--not even trying to sleep--for the call that didn't come.
Em dashes can also be used for emphasis, definition, or explanation.
I tried all I could think of--I mean everything--to no avail.
She was happy and sad and the same time--happy because....
He managed to get his name on a list--the dean's list--in his first semester at college.
Sometimes em dashes and parentheses may be used interchangeably. For the most part, em dashes are used to focus attention on an idea, whereas parentheses tend to diminish attention.
Em dashes (and en dashes) are not a specific size. They are the width of the capital em (and en) of the typeface being used. Note that even if the typeface is the same, if the font is different (e.g., boldface), the width of the em or en dash will differ.
En dashes have two purposes. The first, as I mentioned earlier, is to indicate a range: There will be 20-25 people at the meeting.
The second is to serve as a hyphen in compound adjectives where one of the adjectives is made up of two words or a hyphenated word: I arrived at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport at one o'clock.
Aren't you glad you asked?
Em dashes can be used to indicate a break in thought.
That must be why I like to use those em dashes so much! Plus, I love being able to use em and en in Scrabble.
Aren't you glad you asked?
Roberta! Absolutely, I find it fascinating.
Dupre, Thanks for the applause. I wrote a style manual a few years ago. I confess that I referred to it when I wrote the above post. No point in reiventing the wheel.
Piffka, Dashes are interesting to you? Wow. I thought I was the only one.
Hey, Roberta... when they sing "Dashing through the snow" I get a whole 'nother aspect of what is going on!
Piffka, LOL. Don't tell me that you have visions of dashes dancing in your head.
While we're on the subject of ems and ens, do you have any questions about em spaces and en spaces?
We aims to please.
Yes. Definitely visions. And then there's...On Dasher, On ...
I didn't know there were such things... Em spaces? Is that what you'd want at the end of a sentence?
As you might guess, an em space is the width of a capital M. An en space is the width of a capital N.
There is no set amount of space at the end of a sentence. But there is a set amount of space for paragraph indents, the space between the number or bullet in a list and the entry, the amount of space to indent the second line of a head. There are lots more places where em and en spaces fall.
An em space is marked as a rectangle lying lengthwise. More than one em space is indicated by connected rectangles. An en space is marked with a rectangle with a diagonal line going through it from top left to bottom right.
When you say a set amount of space for paragraph indents, etc. do you mean, there is a standard set for each book to make it consistent? Or is there a recognized standard?
The rectangle with the diagonal line for an en... that would make it look sort of like a capital "N" wouldn't it?
Piffka, Every book, magazine, and newspaper has a design, which determines all the physical aspects of a publication. Included in the design is the size of the paragraph indent. You may have noticed that not all paragraphs are indented, for example, the first paragraph of a chapter or the first paragraph of an article. That's determined by the design.
Yes, the rectangle with the diagonal line looks a lot like a capital N.