The em dash, maybe the most adaptable and logical punctuation mark there is, receives a ton of love — and a touch of hate from time to time. Em dashes can be vulnerable to overuse, but you won’t want to overuse them because you realize how stunning the em dash can be. And of course, there are some of the best examples of an em dash in literature. And there is no easier way to honor this wonderful symbol than by gazing at how authors have used it to develop their craftsmanship.

Several writers non-traditionally used the em dash for their own preferences. It’s relatively much accepted that there’s not even an incorrect way to use an em dash — or instead, most forms people prefer to do it instinctively are appropriate. If you don’t use em dashes in your writing, you ‘re missing a very versatile punctuation that can replace commas, parentheses or colons — not to mention that they look pretty cool too.

The em dash (—) is known for its duration longer than an en dash and three times longer than a hyphen, since it is about the width of capital letter M. (Similarly the en dash is around the N length).

You will bring consistency and elegance to your job by understanding when and how to use the em dash correctly.

What is an Em Dash use?

For various cases, an em dash (or em dashes) can be used to improve clarification or highlight other phrases.

Including Parenthetic Information:

  • Using an em dash provide parenthetical details within sentences, because they put more focus on the details within sentences.
  • Two em dashes are needed in this case — but avoid utilizing more than two em dashes per paragraph, because this may contribute to more ambiguity than clarity.

Probably the most flexible punctuation mark is em sprint. The em dash will bring strength and elegance to your prose, depending upon the setting. The em dash is best limited to two appearances per sentence, in spite of its versatility. Else it would perpetuate ambiguity rather than clarification.

An important point here: do not mistake the em dash (—) for the slightly narrower en dash (–) or the even narrower hyphen (-). Such markings have functions which are distinct, if not as elegant.

Em dashes instead of parenthesis:

A pair of em dashes might replace a couple of parentheses. Dashes are deemed less structured than brackets, so are more invasive as well. Using dashes if you want to call attention to the parenthetical text. To be more subtly inclusive of the parenthetical content, use parentheses.

Multiple uses:

Whether uncertain or deliberately omitted, two em dashes may be used to denote missed portions of a phrase.

Either two or three em dashes may be used when a whole word is missing. Whichever duration you pick, using it all over the paper regularly. As usual it should be placed surrounding punctuation.

Producing an em dash:

Most word processors attach an em dash immediately as you type in a pair of hyphens. Otherwise, search for a order named “attach mark.” If you’re using a typewriter, the closest you can get to an em Dash is a pair of hyphens.

Em Dashes, Commas or Parentheses?

A decent rule of thumb is to save em dashes for certain situations where the comma clearly struggles to have a sufficiently powerful separation. If a comma (or a couple of them) does work, use it.

Parentheses seem to downplay an idea; they say it is useful but not important to include their knowledge. Em dashes attract focus to the details they represent or set apart from each other. The writer typically tells the reader that the information which em dashes set off is essential.

To set off appositives that include Commas, using an Em Dash:

An appositive is a small section of additional information, which is inserted into a clarification sentence. Commas are usually used to offset the appositive, but adding additional commas would confuse the reader if the opposite contains one or more commas. If you are using an appositive containing a comma, instead of offsetting it with dashes.

Why use an em dash?

The hyphen, double hyphen, and minus sign encroach on the em dash territories with rising frequency throughout recent years. Google Books views hyphens, dashes, and em dashes as the same character in the huge digitization process, turning them both into-. Neither the en nor the em exists on regular keyboards, rendering them far tougher to use.


Em dashes prevent authors from making long or punctuated phrases. Em dashes carry the job to the next point, more relaxed than colons and simpler than parentheses.

So flaunt the em dash, use it wisely, decorate your essays with them and maybe drop a pair into your next internet writing paragraph.