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Using En Dash vs. Em Dash

It is vital for professional writers to be aware of the main differences between the en dash and the em dash. Punctuation marks and their correct usage in the text play a significant role for the readers. In case writer ignores the rules of correct usage of punctuation marks, he/she will make punctuation mistakes in the documents, and the content will be interpreted incorrectly. So, do not ignore punctuation rules and your writing will be perceived correctly.   

The punctuation mark length is the very first concept that should be taken into account. The en dash refers to the letter “n” length and the em dash is the lower case letter “m” length. There is no need to make a space between the punctuation and the following word when using the en dash and the em dash.

Now it does not seem to be so complicated, does it? When you revise your paper, you need to understand this rule in order to produce the high-quality content.   

The En Dash and Its Usage

The en dash is mostly used between time periods where in other instances the word “to” can be used.

For example:

The position suites for people who have a vast experience in the field of marketing and the perfect candidate will be between 30–40 years old.

It is mostly sunny in Antalya, but the heaviest rain is December–January.

 Writers often use the en dash in the hyphen place in order to combine open compounds:

The award-winning river is located on the East–West border.

He is not quite sure about her age. He thinks that a girl is of school-college age.

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 The Em Dash Usage

Writers can use the em dash in the places of numerous punctuation marks. They may include commas, semi-colons, and parenthesis. Despite the fact that many writers use the em dash in official documents, such punctuation is more suitable for informal writing. Their major objective is to make a sudden subject or thought change. In addition, it is important to use them sparingly.

The goldfish – who was quite amazing – managed to escape the net by swimming under the fishing boat.

A number of people were pushing the van – Jack, Brad, George, to name a few. 

Shortcuts for the Em Dash and En Dash

em-dash (—) : shift+option+hyphen

en-dash (–) : option+hyphen

As you can see the rules are not so difficult as they may seem from the first sight. Take your time, reread them and try to apply them in your next writing. Following basic punctuation rules will only make your papers sound and look more professional. Readers will start understanding your thoughts and ideas better. So, if your main purpose is to improve your writing skills, try to learn how to use the em dash and the en dash. As soon as you understand the difference between them, you will see that it is quite easy to follow the punctuation rules. 

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