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Fixing dashes

From: Typography for Web Designers

Video: Fixing dashes

In this lesson we're going to fix the dashes in our text. You need the files biblio_serif_dashes. html and biblio_serif_dashes.css from the Exercise folder. You also need the Fonts folder with the Chopin Script web font files in it. So drag a copy of your Fonts folder into your Exercise Folder. That way the Chopin Script font will continue to work. Open up the HTML file in the browser to see what we're working with. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page and we're going to stop at A Type Primer.

Fixing dashes

In this lesson we're going to fix the dashes in our text. You need the files biblio_serif_dashes. html and biblio_serif_dashes.css from the Exercise folder. You also need the Fonts folder with the Chopin Script web font files in it. So drag a copy of your Fonts folder into your Exercise Folder. That way the Chopin Script font will continue to work. Open up the HTML file in the browser to see what we're working with. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page and we're going to stop at A Type Primer.

If we zoom in, you can see clearly here that we're using two hyphens to form a long dash. We want a long dash here because it indicates a break in thought. Long dashes are used when a comma is too weak, but a period is too strong. But using double hyphens isn't typographically correct. While they have the correct meaning, hello I'm a breaking thought, they also undermine the lovely typographic texture you've worked so hard to create.

You've carefully chosen a font, a size, a line height, so text is not only readable but beautiful. Let's keep the long dashes beautiful too. A long dash is called an em dash and em dash is historically as long as the font is high. So if you're using 15 pixel type, your em dash should come into the page right around 15 pixels wide. This is great, because the em dash gets longer as needed when your font is bigger and it also gets shorter as needed when your font is smaller.

If you already know how to create an em dash using keyboard combinations, you might be tempted to enter em dash as that way in your web page. But don't do it. Keyboard combinations do not work across browsers. So how do we fix this? We'll use a character entity. Character entities are snippets of code that help the HTML show characters that won't otherwise work. So open up the HTML file in your text editor, then just scroll down to A Type Primer and find that double dash, there it is, and we're going to replace it.

We are going to replace it with —. You'll notice I also got rid of the spaces on either side. Typographically you can keep them if you want to. That's not a problem; you can do it either way. After you fixed the first one you can copy and paste to fix the rest of them. There are three on this page so we'll select this and we'll copy it. Oops! There is one right here after the word humor. I can paste it and I'm going to keep scrolling down.

Looking carefully and here under the For the Love of Type, The Elements of Typographic Style, we've got another one. I'll paste, we can save, and let's review this in our browser. Excellent. You can see right here under a Type Primer it's no longer a double hyphen. It's an em dash. So now what we're going to do is fix our en dashes. The en dash is approximately half the length of an em dash and about twice as long as a hyphen. It's used to indicate range.

Think of the en dash is replacing the word "between" or "to". So we would use an en dash in phrases such as three to five years old or between 2:30 and 3:30 or June through August. The default en dash is the basic hyphen and this is incorrect. Let me find one for us here. Down at the bottom under Love and Joy About Letters, we have dates that represent the life span of Ben Shahn and here we've used a hyphen.

Hyphens are meant to be used to bring words together to form single ideas. Hyphen does not mean a range. It does not mean between 1898 and 1969. Let me show you a hyphen that it is being used the correct way. We're going to fix this en dash in a moment. I am going to go up under Nice Web Type in the very beginning. Here you can see the use of hyphen that's used correctly. It's being used to combine the word know and the word how to create know-how.

This is exactly how a hyphen should work. Hyphens are lovely and we need them. We need them to help us understand to connect two parts of a word when text is hyphenated along the right edge. So hyphens are good, but they don't mean a range. So let's go in and fix that en dash. What should be an en dash that we saw down at the bottom. Back in our HTML we're going to go down to Love and Joy About Letters and there is that hyphen there and we're going to use the character entity – and a semicolon. Save that and review it in our browser and we'll scroll down. There we are.

The en dash you can see it's a little bit longer then our hyphen, but not as long as an em dash. That's perfect. If you've used em and en dashes in web pages before, you may have used different character entities with the numbers 150 and 151 in them and this is incorrect. I'm not going to lie and say I understand exactly why. Just know that some computers and/or programs reserve the character entities with the numbers 150 and 151 in them for other non-visible things.

Thus, you should use the numbers 8212 and 8211 for your em dash and your en dash. If you want to know more about this from people who know way more about coding characters than I do, I recommend visiting Stack Overflow. There's a thread regarding the difference between the 151 and the 8212 and you can read about it there. And again if you're interested in learning more about when to use em and en dashes, I once again recommend the article The Trouble With EM 'n EN (and Other Shady Characters) by Peter Shearon on alistapart.com.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Typography for Web Designers
Typography for Web Designers

74 video lessons · 13484 viewers

Laura Franz
Author

 
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  1. 6m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 57s
    3. Things to consider before starting this course
      3m 12s
  2. 41m 3s
    1. Understanding how good typography promotes reading
      2m 9s
    2. Understanding legibility
      4m 41s
    3. Understanding how fonts convey meaning
      5m 19s
    4. Choosing web-safe fonts to convey meaning
      6m 13s
    5. Using font size, case, style, letter spacing, weight, and color to convey meaning
      6m 22s
    6. Choosing web fonts to convey meaning
      6m 23s
    7. Downloading web fonts
      4m 9s
    8. Applying web fonts in CSS with @font-face
      5m 47s
  3. 38m 0s
    1. Choosing a web-safe font for use in text
      4m 13s
    2. Applying the web-safe font to the text and the heading
      3m 4s
    3. Setting a class for the resource titles in the text
      3m 45s
    4. Choosing a second web-safe font for the heading
      2m 42s
    5. Applying the second font to the heading
      2m 16s
    6. Choosing a web font from the Google Font API for use in text
      5m 44s
    7. Adding and applying the Google Font API syntax
      4m 29s
    8. Choosing a second web font from the Google Font API for the heading
      2m 56s
    9. Adding and applying the second font to the heading
      4m 52s
    10. Analyzing the fonts on some professional sites
      3m 59s
  4. 55m 31s
    1. Understanding how we read
      4m 34s
    2. Finding and applying a good font size and line height
      4m 50s
    3. Finding and applying a good line length
      8m 6s
    4. Understanding ems
      6m 17s
    5. Using ems to set font size
      6m 9s
    6. Using ems to set line length
      3m 40s
    7. Understanding how color affects readability
      3m 58s
    8. Improving a color palette by improving contrast
      5m 39s
    9. Improving a color palette by reducing optical vibration
      4m 59s
    10. Analyzing text readability on the professional sites
      7m 19s
  5. 1h 11m
    1. Understanding how we "chunk" visual elements
      3m 59s
    2. Developing a system of hierarchy
      2m 17s
    3. Applying hierarchy in HTML and CSS
      7m 16s
    4. Developing a system to help chunk text for readers
      6m 1s
    5. Applying the system in the CSS
      4m 19s
    6. Changing an element by creating and applying a class
      5m 0s
    7. Using multiple columns to create hierarchy
      4m 12s
    8. Building a two-column system in HTML and CSS
      10m 56s
    9. Refining the horizontal space in a two-column layout
      6m 1s
    10. Adding rule lines to improve chunking
      5m 50s
    11. Adding emphasis within a heading
      4m 36s
    12. Analyzing the chunking on the professional sites
      11m 18s
  6. 17m 57s
    1. Understanding classic and modernist typographic pages
      7m 3s
    2. Understanding how to create rhythm and tension
      6m 0s
    3. Applying typography skills when making design decisions
      4m 54s
  7. 55m 47s
    1. Designing typographic links for the traditional page
      5m 54s
    2. Adding a list of links to the traditional page
      8m 44s
    3. Describing the link states in CSS
      6m 30s
    4. Returning links to their original "unvisited" style
      2m 38s
    5. Using different CSS for different kinds of links
      7m 28s
    6. Using CSS notation to organize syntax
      5m 34s
    7. Choosing a background color or image
      4m 0s
    8. Applying a repeating background image
      2m 58s
    9. Shaping the traditional page layout
      6m 38s
    10. Analyzing the traditional typographic elements on the professional sites
      5m 23s
  8. 43m 0s
    1. Designing typographic links for the modernist page
      6m 47s
    2. Making a list of links run across the page
      2m 14s
    3. Adding and removing space between the navigation links
      6m 50s
    4. Styling the inline links on the modernist page
      5m 33s
    5. Choosing a background color or image for the modernist bibliography
      4m 4s
    6. Applying a no-repeat background image
      4m 13s
    7. Shaping the modernist page layout
      6m 58s
    8. Analyzing the modernist typographic elements on the professional sites
      6m 21s
  9. 52m 53s
    1. Fixing quotation marks and apostrophes
      6m 59s
    2. Fixing dashes
      6m 33s
    3. Working with lining figures (numbers) and acronyms
      9m 28s
    4. Fixing characters that don't look right
      8m 19s
    5. Hanging punctuation
      2m 54s
    6. Applying typographic accents
      2m 36s
    7. Vertically centering text
      5m 18s
    8. Creating drop caps
      5m 59s
    9. Analyzing the typographic details on the professional sites
      4m 47s
  10. 3m 9s
    1. Additional resources
      3m 9s

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