Reader’s Question: Spacing for Dashes

Elements of Style shows a dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses. Of course it is; I get that. What about the dash we sometimes see that immediately follows the last typed character in a word? I don’t have an example, so cannot give you the context, because someone just asked me this and I don’t have an answer. The way it would look is like this: The cat was on the table- rest of sentence. 
(Not The cat was on the table – rest of sentence). How I would love to say it’s a typo, but this person assures me they’ve seen it in published works. Your thoughts?

Thanks for your question, Marie.

Once again, it’s a matter of style.

In AP style, an en dash is used, with a space before and after.

In Chicago style, an em dash is used, with no space before or after.

I know of no case that calls for a space after a dash and none before. Your friend might be thinking of a hanging hyphen: eighteenth- and nineteenth-century architecture.

Hope this helps!

Joy Eckel, Freelance Copy Editor
Email joyeckel@gmail.com for a free estimate and sample edit!
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One Response to “Reader’s Question: Spacing for Dashes”

  1. Marie Says:

    Wow, a hanging hyphen! Yes, that’s what it is. How interesting. Thank you.

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