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January 10, 2015 in 

Dashes (also referred to as “dashes”) in book publishing terminology refer to either an em-dash or an en-dash. Dashes can often be found throughout books, magazines and newspapers that contain written material with dashes present; their purpose varies based on which written media they appear in.

The em-dash punctuation mark is an extended version of the dash punctuation mark and measures one letter width wide. It can be used to emphasize or interrupt thought processes or sentences – for instance when replacing parentheses, colons or commas when necessary; or simply indicate moments that make readers gasp, like “She couldn’t believe what she saw – her heart skipped a beat!”

An en-dash is much thinner and roughly equivalent in width to an “n,” used to indicate relationships or ranges among elements like dates, numbers or places – for instance “The event took place from October 5-12 2022” or “A New York-London flight is currently scheduled.”

Em-dashes and en-dashes play an essential role in improving readability of printed texts, particularly publications. While some style guides recommend inserting an em-dash with spaces on either side, others suggest leaving it unspaced (“–“); depending on your style guide preference, en-dashes may or may not be spaced appropriately.

Dashes can be strategically used in book and publishing layout design to add visual interest, efficiently organize content and effectively convey meaning.

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About the author 

CJ McDaniel

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!

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