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Okay, we're talking about small fiddly things, and this movie is about dashes, hyphens, and em dashes, and em dashes. And those are their relative widths, and these are the shortcuts that you use to get them. So when would we need to use em dashes and em dashes. Hyphens are obvious, we need those for compound words, we don't need to insert a hyphen to break a word at the end of a line those hyphens are automatically inserted if we have hyphenation turned on. So let's look, first of all, at the usage of an em dash.
You still, even in this day and age, occasionally see people typing a double dash for an em dash. A holdover of the typewriter days when there was no such thing as an em dash on a standard typewriter keyboard. You also see people doing stuff like this, where you just have a single hyphen surrounded by spaces, or maybe even not surrounded by spaces, where they want an em dash or a parenthetical dash. So that's their correct usage, of course, you can check a usage manual like the Chicago Manual of Style to give you more information but they used to offset a phrase.
And when you use them you need to be consistent about how you use them. Do you put spaces around them, do you not put spaces around them. If you put spaces around them. How big is the space? This is how I like to do them. I'm just going to turn on my Hidden Characters and my Guides, and we can see that here around my em dashes I have these funny hidden characters. These are actually thin spaces. I prefer to use thin spaces because I think a full space is just too much and without any space the em dash can sometimes get dangerously close to the proceeding or the following character.
So this last example here doesn't have the thin space in, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to put it in, and I can right-click, come down to Insert White Space > Thin Space. So I can do it that way, or I can also use the keyboard shortcut, which is Command+Shift+Option, or Ctrl+Shift+Alt, and the M key to insert a thin space. If you're working with a body of text that needs to have all the spaces around the dashes switched to thin spaces then you can do that with Find/Change, and in fact, there is a saved query in Find/Change, that will convert a dash, not to an em dash, but to an em dash--half the width. And we'll come on to em dashes in a moment.
But let's say I did want to do a multiple change for a double hyphen and change it to an em dash, and then I also wanted some spaces around that em dash. Well, I can insert my cursor before that token and then come down to White Space and say Thin Space, and then insert the cursor after there. Come down to White Space > Thin Space again. So then I would run Change All. Of course, there aren't any to change now. But if there were, that would fix them.
But when you do a multiple Find and Change using this technique, it is possible to introduce some unnecessary spaces into your text. So I suggest that after you have done this you follow it up with this Find/Change routine, which is Multiple space to Single space. And that will just get rid of any extra spaces that may have been mistakenly introduced. Okay, so a little bit more about em dashes. Now, technically speaking, when you want a parenthetical dash you need an em dash, Ctrl+Shift, or Command+Shift, and the hyphen will get you that.
As you can see, the em dash is very long, some people feel it is too long and some people prefer instead to use em dashes just as a stylistic preference. That is entirely up to you, but whatever you do, make it consistent that's the most important thing. Whatever style of dash you go with make sure you are consistent, but it should be an em dash or an em dash, definitely don't do this. And another way you could do it, if you wanted to get really fiddly, is you can use em dashes, but if you feel they're just a little bit too wide, you can change their horizontal width, which is that command right there, and of course you can automate this through Find/Change, so it's not a question of manually going and changing each one.
All right, so we have talked about em dashes, now let's talk about em dashes. The em dash half of the width of the em dash, and em dash is used when you need to signify passage of time. Basic rule of thumb is if you speak the phrase, and you use the word too that should be an em dash. On the left we see a hyphen used. Technically it should be an em dash, and to get that we use the keyboard shortcut, Option, or Alt, and hyphen. Alternatively, you can come to the Type menu > Insert Special Character or you can right-click Insert Special Character > Hyphens and Dashes > Em Dash.
So there we have the story of the hyphen, the em dash, and the em dash. Just make sure you use whichever is appropriate.
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