Using M-dash and N-dash?

Subject: Using M-dash and N-dash?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, dmbrown -at- brown-inc -dot- com
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 18:08:54 -0500

Missed the start of this side topic, but it appears that someone proposed asking people "whether they *use* em dashes in their writing and whether they care what's written in the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS)" as if that question were really important.

Puh-lease. This is logic? Should we abandon the use of dictionaries because so few people seem to use them, and abandon punctuation because so many people don't understand how to use it well? Maybe we should abandon subject-verb accord too; by the evidence from my freelance editing work, not too many people know how to use that tool either. And maybe we should just organize our thoughts on the page in whatever order they drift into our enlightened brains, since good organization isn't all that common either. Yeah, that's a real good idea.

The reason these guides and others exist is because some of us understand their importance and use them to impose a measure of consistency. Others benefit from our use of these guides. The reason em and en dashes exist--and have done so for a good many years (centuries, probably)--is because they continue to serve a useful purpose. Some of us still know how to use them and many more of us understand their purpose.

Yes, the lowest common denominator keeps on sinking, but that doesn't mean we should pander to the lowest common denominator. Write well, using all the tools at your disposal, for the benefit of those who can appreciate good writing. Write clearly so that those who can't appreciate what we're doing can still benefit from our writing. Skillful use of language is worth defending, and worth promoting.

Dave Brown rejoined: <<What I wrote was that, without conscious effort, most people correctly interpret the intended meaning of text that includes appropriately used em dashes. The point is that a professional communicator needs to understand and employ the tools and rules of effective communication.>>

And _that's_ well said. Amen.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)

RE: Re: Using M-dash and N-dash: From: John Posada
Re: Using M-dash and N-dash: From: dmbrown

Previous by Author: Using M-dash and N-dash?
Next by Author: Make pixel shim invisible?
Previous by Thread: Re: Using M-dash and N-dash
Next by Thread: RE: Re: Using M-dash and N-dash

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads