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Dashing to the Rescue?

You have words - now what do you do with them?

Dashing to the Rescue?

Postby Slava » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:48 pm

Not a recent article, but it is still interesting and relates to a previous post here.

The Singular Beauty of the Em-Dash.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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Re: Dashing to the Rescue?

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:03 pm

Prob just need to revisit the original link you have there. I agree with Philip that I can't always predict what Word is going to do.
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Re: Dashing to the Rescue?

Postby gailr » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:36 pm

I'm a long-time fan of the em dash. :wink:
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Re: Dashing to the Rescue?

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:07 am

Read this post only if you are interested in the minutiae of the topic of dashes.

In hand set and Linotype typography there were several spaces with corresponding dashes of the same length. Originally the em space or dash was the width of the letter M in a particular font. (A font is a set of letters of a type face that are the same point size. Times New Roman is a type face. Twelve Point Times New Roman is a type font.) The en space or dash was the width of the letter N in a particular font. A fixed word space or dash was one fourth of an em space or dash. A variable word space was whatever space was necessary to have all lines of text the exact same length. On the Linotype, the variable word space was created with triangular wedges pushed between the words to make an even spacing. I am not aware of a variable word dash. It would not be very useful. There was also a numeral space but I am not sure there was a numeral dash. (I’m old as dirt, so don’t expect me to remember everything.) In all reasonable type fonts, all numerals are the exact same space. I believe they are the same as a fixed word space. I find this is not the case in "The Dallas Morning News" and the 1 is much narrower than the other numerals. This makes it difficult to read the numbers. I cannot create an example of this because I must take what the Good Doctor’s software gives me.

I was a pioneer in computer-generated type. We used the Linotype rules for spaces and dashes. Since then, the values of spaces and dashes have varied. I am no longer sure of the width of the various spaces and dashes. I do know that, in Microsoft Word, spaces and dashes are not easily controlled. One types a dash and suddenly it mysteriously changes to another length of dash. When one leaves it to the next generation, one has no say in the ensuing transmogrification.
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