Punctuation: Dashes

January 10, 2002: Issue 5

SIM STYLE: A little (or big) dash will do ya
All dashes are not equal, and it’s SIM style to recognize their differences.
A standard “em dash” (shift-option-hyphen) is used within a sentence to
add emphasis or definition. Em dashes are not set off with spaces.
    incorrect: The copy editors-all of them-are on vacation.
    correct: The copy editors—all of them—are on vacation.

The slightly smaller “en dash” (option-hyphen) represents the word “to” between figures. (Many non-SIM publications simply use a hyphen in this instance.) One exception: If numbers are preceded by the word “from,” use “to” rather than an en dash.

incorrect: See pages 5 to 15.
correct: See pages 5-15.
For more information, see dashes section of in the SIM stylebook.

History revisited
Is the renovated house historic or historical? There’s a difference.
An event of significant importance, or the place it occurred, is “historic.”
Anything else that simply pertains to the past is “historical.”
incorrect: The home’s historic facade reflects the architecture of the day.
correct: The home’s historical facade reflects the architecture of the day.
correct: Abraham Lincoln once lived in the historic house.

For more information on these and other easily confused words, see Problem Words section in the SIM stylebook.

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