In this tip we’re going to look at how to use the dash—or rather, how to use two different dashes.
Did you know that there were two? One is called the m-dash and the other is the n-dash. Strange names you might think. But quite logical. The m-dash takes up the same amount of space as the letter ‘m’ and the n-dash takes up the space of, you guessed it, the letter ‘n’.
How do we choose which one to use?
The m-dash is used to mark a break in a sentence. Here are some examples of different kinds of breaks where an m-dash is just the thing:
Used in pairs, like parentheses
- The manager was involved—in fact the prime mover—in the decision to relocate the team.
- If you’ve been to Prague you must have seen it—nobody misses Charles Bridge.
To introduce an aside by the writer
- The decision to relocate was made for a range of excellent reasons—and at least we now have more space.
An n-dash really only has one use. It shows sequences.
- 2012 – 2103
- A – L and M – Z
Both of these dashes are longer than the hyphen.