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  Saturday  April 30  2005    11: 46 AM


The Terminal
A Journal of Typography & Lettering Arts


If you have ever looked closely at one of the P22 key charts you will notice several dashes, well, six to be exact. These dashes are the hyphen, minus sign, en dash, em dash, macron and underscore. Don't stop reading! These dashes are found in every font because each has a specific typographic and grammatical use, but you'll probably need to use only three of them.

The Hyphen -
The hyphen is the shortest dash visually. It is the most widely misused dash because people employ it for all sorts of purposes, although it is meant only for hyphenating words or creating line breaks.

The Minus Sign
The minus sign is slightly longer than the hyphen, usually the same length as the en dash. Obviously one uses the hyphen in mathematical formulas and equations. The minus sign is usually designed to be the same length as the plus and equals signs. In most fonts these are usually monospaced along with the numbers for ease when being used in tabular formats.

The Em Dash
As a rule, the em dash is twice as long as the en dash. This dash is the length if the capital M in any particular font. The em dash is used in much the way a colon or set of parentheses is used: it can show an abrupt change in thought or be used where a period is too strong and a comma too weak. An em dash should never be used with spaces on either side although, clearly, many people are unaware of this rule.


  thanks to The Cartoonist