Actually, that’s em and em . . . not quite as delightful as M&Ms, those nummy little globular treats (I’m partial to the Minis myself).  😊

Time for another grammar/punctuation post—just a wee one, kinda like my Minis.

I thought I’d do a two-parter, the first being about em dashes and em spaces and the second about en dashes and en spaces.  Yeah, kind of a snoozy topic, but worth reviewing for us writers . . . since a few of us don’t necessarily use either correctly.  😊

“Em”, in a nutshell, refers to the width of the space—the same typographical width as a lowercase “m” character.  Typographical, by the by, is simply a fancy word for the arrangement/appearance of printed matter.

But while we’re [sort of] on the topic of typography—for those that might be remotely interested—the em space is utilized as a basic unit of measure for websites.  The default font size is set to ems; fonts on the page that are larger/smaller are delegated as multiples or fractions of said ems.  They can be used to create optical adjustments between elements or to avoid recurring spaces.  Put another way, to avoid hitting the spacebar several times to move a word or character, you can use an em space (with an appropriately sized scale) to literally shove the word (or sentence) farther along that line without repetitively pressing that spacebar.  Yeah, a bit of a mouthful . . . and earful.

The em dash has different punctuation functions.  When used like a comma, you can offer extra information (examples, details, explanations).  Used like a colon, you can provide explanatory clauses or descriptions.  The em dash can serve the same purpose as parenthesis, or brackets: to add additional facts or list items/details.

In Q3, the comestibles company—given it had just merged with a wine company—would be increasing its workforce and hours of operation.

The wide range of craft beers on the counter—ale, lager, stout, pilsner, and porter—brought smiles to the overheated guests upon stepping onto the pergola.

Hudson’s boutique officially opened on Friday and offered a vast selection of hats—fedoras, Panamas, trilbies, bonnets, caps, and bowlers.

Is spacing used with em dashes?  Not with books or journals.  Yes, with newspapers and magazines, and some websites (it depends on their practice).

An em dash (again, one em or “M” wide,) is used to communicate changes—sudden disruptions in thoughts or a [quick/unexpected] switch from one speaker/character to another.

As they stepped inside, Jerry looked around the dimly lit cabin with trepidation, but his best friend Arthur—he was excited.

“If you’d told me Marty was coming—”

“Hey! I had no idea he was coming,” Lee interrupted angrily.

There are other uses for the em dash, but these should do for now.  Too much information is—well—too much.  😉

As I often say, if you’re truly interested in learning more, the internet offers no shortage of information—rules and guidelines abound!

Author: tylerus

I'm primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (I enjoy playing detective and developing structure). My fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. My genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction. So-o, here I am, staring up a new blog for aspiring and established e-Book writers. The plan: to share the (long) journey of getting to this stage, and share "learnings" and "teachings". There's a lot I hope to accomplish with this blog, but it may be a while before that happens as there's a lot on the ol' plate - taking care of Mom, working full-time, and attempting to get another book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series written (never mind blog postings and other writing projects). It's very challenging and it's all good. As I like to say: teeny focused baby steps are just as effective as long forceful strides. It may take a little longer, but we will get there.

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