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Of course, the only practical use of the en dash is as subtle code to communicate, from one publishing professional to another, the abstract concept, "I am copy editor. Hear me roar." Recognizing the en dash can be like a secret handshake to our club.


I now fully grok the "subversive" part of your title. Excellent, insightful article, too!


Droll, but I wonder how many know the difference between "en" letters and "em" letters.


Of course there are those who have forgotten the importance of an interrogation point and fail to use it effectively :)


Hoarding hyphens remains an excellent strategy. Although AP has rolled out a new hyphen-efficient model (and even back in 2007 the Shorter Oxford Dictionary went with a bunch of hyphen-saving improvements), the computer industry continues to spend hyphens profligately -- for example, using two at a time (!) to represent em-dashes, and using them freely in such places as blog-post URLs. Moreover, demand remains strong in unregulated writing, where ordinary writers continue to hyphenate prefixes and remain fond of hyphens in phrasal verbs like "to sign-up." My broker's analysts continue to recommend a "Strong Buy" for companies in hyphen-related businesses.


"Of course there are those who have forgotten the importance of an interrogation point and fail to use it effectively :)"

Is that so!

Account Deleted

Pssst ... Planning a raid on CMOS. As an _e-mail_ fan, I covet those hyphens ... and it's only a matter of time before CMOS tosses them out too. Anyone with extra storage space, please join me. I only have a little room under my bed.


When AP comes to its senses and decides to join the civilized world by using the serial comma, please call me.

Ron Marmarelli

Since when has AP Style eliminated the hyphen in e-mail? Or am I missing something here?

Shmuel Ross

Ron: since this past weekend. See http://www.ap.org/pages/about/pressreleases/pr_031811b.html

Ron Marmarelli

Yikes! The changes just keep on coming. Next thing you know AP will change the accepted spelling of "fliers" to "flyers" and "adviser" to "advisor" and accept "presently" as meaning "now."

Patricia Boyd

Whoever wrote the comment "phrasal verbs like 'to sign-up,'" thanks for the laugh! "Please clean-up this report, and follow-up with a phone call." Aargh! It's such a waste of perfectly good hyphens. If people who write like this continue to proliferate, we'll be looking under Account Deleted's bed for extra hyphens.

But I do remember how my father, born in 1916, would write the old-fashioned "to-day" and "to-morrow" in his handwritten letters to me, and I wonder if today's "e-mail" will look as quaint as his "to-days" and "to-morrows."

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