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Using Dashes in Your Writing

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on 20 February 2014

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Transcript of Using Dashes in Your Writing

To Indicate Interrupted Speech
When using dialogue dashes can be used to show an interruption in speech. It can be used for dialogue spoken out loud or when a character is talking to himself.
Why should you bother with dashes?
There is a certain criteria that requires the use of dashes, but using them in writing for other reasons can help make your piece stand out.
Indicating a Sudden Break
Dashes are used to show a break in thought.
In this use it can be possible to replace a semicolon.
To Set Off an Introductory Series *
* An introductory series is a list found in the subject that represents the clause.
Think of it as creating a to do list, but titling it after writing down your tasks.
To Set Off Parenthetical Material*
*Parenthetical material- used to clarify or explain a word or phrase.
You can use a set of dashes to surround material that you would normally put into parenthesis.
Using Dashes in Your Writing

General Dash Criteria
Indication of a sudden break.
To set off an introductory series (or list).
In place of parenthesis.
To indicate broken speech.
For emphasis.
By James Martz and Hayley Ferris
Using dashes in regular writing is generally uncommon. By using it (and using it correctly) you can draw a positive attention to your piece. This is helpful in research papers, college essays, and even resumes.
Instead of Saying:
Try to Say:
Instead of saying:
To do: clean room, empty dishwasher, and feed Missy.
You could say:
Clean room, empty dishwasher, feed Missy- everything I need to get done.
Instead of saying:
Many students wait until the last moment to do projects and proceed to complain about their bad grade; even though they were well aware of the due date ahead of time.
Many students wait until the last moment to do projects- even though they are well aware of the due date ahead of time- and proceed to complain about their bad grade.
Stephen isn't wearing his usual attire (camo), he must have forgotten to do laundry.
Try to Say:
Stephen isn't wearing his usual attire- camo- he must have forgotten to do laundry.
For Example:
"I love y-"
"No. Go away."
Or
"Hi Honey! How was scho-"
"Fine. Can I go play drums?"
For Emphasis
You can use dashes in your writing to emphasize almost anything- a word, series, phrase, or clause.
Notice how the above grammar rule was written using dashes to put emphasis on the series.
Types of Dashes
There are a handful of dashes used in writing- each with a different purpose.
Swung Dash
The Swung Dash looks completely different from the other dashes. It's like a funky sideways "s". (It looks like this: ~ ) It's used to separate alternatives or approximates. It's used a lot in math where values are approximated rather than exact.
Em Dash
The Em Dash is the most commonly used dash, and roughly measures to the size of the letter "m". It is the dash used in all of the grammar rules we previously covered. The Em Dash can also be used to censor writing.
En Dash
The En Dash is roughly the size of the letter "n" and is found where a length of time has passed. Think of it as replacing "to" or "through" with a dash.
Figure Dash
Figure dashes are used with figures or digits. You can find them commonly in phone numbers, data series, and Social Security numbers. Figure dashes are generally the smallest of the dashes.
Horizontal Bar
The Horizontal Bar is the longest of the dashes. It is generally just used when there is an open period of time (unlike where the En Dash is used for a closed). The most common places to find a horizontal bar are in biographies of those who are still living during publication, and on gravestones where the plot has already been set.
TADA! That's All About Dashes!
Please excuse our lack of sufficient credits as James found it to unimportant to share that slight bit of information with me.
Instead of saying:
I cannot wait for this weekend to get my new car.
Try to say:
I cannot wait for this weekend to get my new car- a Jeep Liberty.
The different dashes are like little people. They are different shapes and sizes- and even their own names.
Dashes should not be confused with hyphens or minus signs. While they all share a similar design they all have a different size and function.
Most Common Dash Breeds
Em Dash
En Dash
Figure Dash
Horizontal Bar
Swung Dash
A Few Examples of the Different Em Dash Uses:
"Can you help me with-"
"Sorry I'm busy."
It took a long time, but James finally realized what Hayley's favorite animal was- dolphins.
Who the H--- cares about your new hat?
A Few Examples Are:
I was supposed to work after school from 3 - 9, but my boss called and said she doesn't need me today.
I go to the beach every year from June 21 - June 28.
Adolf Hitler was alive April 20, 1889 - April 30, 1945.
A Few Examples Are:
Don't forget to call me- (845) 473- 3377.
"Can you please provide your Social for verification purposes?"
"Yes. It's 111-11-1111.
I have to call the insurance company back, but I cannot remember if my claim number is 123-3333 or 122-3333.
A Few Examples Are:
James Martz 1996 - *
My grandparents headstone reads Jane Doe 1923 - 2003 & John Doe 1923 - *
* Please imagine that the dashes marked with asterisks are supposed to be longer than the dash in between Jane Doe's birth and death dates. The coding didn't feel the need to cooperate.
A Few Examples Are:
From now on he will be known as ~ Mr. Line rather than Mr. Potpot.
The answer to the math problem is ~45.5693462430.
They're offering to pay me a little under $4,000 so with tax and everything else let's figure the total to be ~$4,500.
Sources
The Internet and Mr. Guay's Book
Background Music
Down with the Sickness By Disturbed
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