Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You'd be surprised

From "Comics Grammar and Tradition":

There is no Em or En dash in comics. It's always a double dash and it's only used when a character's speech is interrupted. The double dash and the ellipsis are often mistakenly thought to be interchangeable. That's not the case in comics, even though it's rife in comic scripts. For the record, there are only TWO dashes in a double dash. It sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised.

(I am a heavy em-dash user, as these are easily generated on Macs by hitting apple-option-hyphen; unfortunately, one of my e-mail accounts transforms my meticulous emdashery into question markery, making it look like I am casting doubt on every other statement!)

(Via Jenny D; I also realize that I am mimicking her style.)



Blogger dan visel said...

I would dearly love to read a general history of punctuation - there's this one, but it's forbiddingly expensive & I haven't managed to track it down in a library yet. Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style kind of does this, but Bringhurst has so many other fish to fry that history gets short shrift. There must be a good book to be written on punctuation and technology - the invention of the back slash, for example. People thinking that double dashes are okay seems like it's clearly the result of thinking like a typewriter - and I'm always amazed at how many people, even people who must have learned to type on computers rather than typewriters, double-space after periods.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

That is a pet peeve of mine, the double space after the period! A holdover!

Have a small paperback on my desk called QUIRKY QWERTY: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE TYPEWRITER AND ITS MANY CHARACTERS, by Torbjörn Lundmark.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I use the double dash on my blog and in emails because I know the em-dash is easily mangled. I think about it and frown every time I use it.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Ed said...


I am possibly the only one who diligent uses an en dash (to express, e.g., a range of dates)...

(Option-hyphen gets you one on a Mac.)

The word verification for this comment is "perard."

2:18 PM  

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