End a Sentence with a Period. Period.

I see this in emails or social media posts……….people connect sentences with long strings of dots……..it’s not a period and not an ellipsis……….this punctuation has no meaning………an ellipsis (three periods …) is used to indicate that something is being omitted from text, usually when quoting……….a period is used to indicate the end of a sentence……….I wonder if they do this when writing on paper……….probably not because they would need to make many dots with a pen…………when you get to the end of a complete thought……….please insert a period………this signals to your reader that the sentence is over………now if you want to use these dot strings in personal emails……..you certainly can but it’s not appropriate………………for business correspondence or professional social media.

sw_BacklitKeyboard_FFP10037 Photo by jppi at Morguefile.com

You Deserve an Expert

Where do you go when you need something?

Berks County, like many other areas, is one where you need a car. It’s mostly rural with no public transportation outside of the greater Reading area. I’ve had my present car for four years. I drive to Philadelphia twice a week for classes, and I live on an unpaved, private road in a rural area where it takes the road crews awhile to plow snow.

So last fall it was time to get new tires. I chose to go to a local business: Kanter’s Tire Service in Shoemakersville. There are two reasons for this. One is because I always try to support independent businesses whenever possible. The other reason is because Kantner’s does tires. That’s all they do. They’ve been doing tires for 40 years, which basically makes them an expert on the subject. I’ve gotten tires there before and they’ve always been helpful and knowledgeable. It’s a family-owned business so they are invested in providing great products and services to their customers.

car-repair-362150_1280 Pixabay

Why choose an expert over an amateur or DIY?

Could I have gotten the same or similar tires installed for less money at a chain store? Probably. Would the level of service have been the same? Maybe, but probably not. Price is not the only thing that’s lower when your choice is based on “cheaper.” Customer service, quality, and caring are also lacking.

The same goes for the communication your business puts out to the world — on the web and in print. On the signs hanging in your office and the one outside on the building. Do you really want a college intern or your kid to manage your social media account or write the landing page for your website or the brochure that you want customers to take and share with their friends and family? Or do you think that your livelihood deserves an expert, experienced eye for grammar, punctuation, SEO, and marketing techniques?

Free Evaluation

Call today for a free evaluation of your website or print materials.

  • Two pages of your website. This can include a blog post.
  • Two pieces of your printed material, such as a brochure, white paper, poster, or news release (word limit: 1,000 each)
  • Copy and line editing
  • A brief in-person meeting to deliver and discuss my recommendations or, if you prefer, recommendations will be emailed

 

Hyphens and Dashes

Dashes are part of a professional writer’s toolbox. They are used to create pauses and indicate strength of words. If you want to up your blogging or content game, get comfortable knowing when to correctly use them.

Hyphen

The hyphen, the shortest dash, is probably the most misused. People insert it in place of longer dashes or type two hyphens rather than a long dash. Today, say “no more” to incorrectly used hyphens! You want to look like you know what you’re doing, right?

A hyphen’s most common use is for compound adjectives: when two words are combined to create a single adjective:

  • four-foot table
  • 10-page report
  • 3-year-old child

A hyphen should never be used in place of an en or em dash. It doesn’t read well. I see this a lot in online writing. A hyphen where an em dash should be always trips me up. Don’t make your reader go back and reread a line!

En Dash

An en dash is slightly longer than the hyphen. It’s used to indicate space between times and dates, and is read as “to” or “through”:

  • 4 – 6 p.m. (4 to 6 p.m.)
  • 2000 – 2016 (2000 to 2016)
  • Monday – Thursday (Monday through Thursday)

AP Style requires a space before and after the en dash.

Emily Dickinson was fond of placing em dashes at the end of a line, and her work became easily recognizable because of this.

Em Dash

The em dash is one of my favorite punctuation marks. It’s a long dash that can be used to break up a sentence — especially when what follows the em dash is closely related to what’s before it. The em dash is read as a strong pause, similar to a period. There are several ways to use an em dash.

In place of commas

If you want to make a nonrestrictive clause stand out, use em dashes rather than commas, like this:

  • Mary, who was completely unprepared, saved our haphazard presentation with some skillful ad-libbing and landed the new client.
  • Mary — who was completely unprepared — saved our haphazard presentation with some skillful ad-libbing and landed the new client.

The em dashes give more weight to the words between them. They indicate that it’s important for you to know that Mary was unprepared.

In place of parentheses
  • Bob adopted his dog (a Golden Doodle) from a local animal shelter.
  • Bob adopted his dog — a Golden Doodle — from a local animal shelter.

As with replacing commas, the em dashes here indicate importance to the breed of dog.

In place of a colon

Similarly, a colon can be replaced with an em dash when emphasis is needed.

  • Snow, sleet, freezing rain: this is the forecast for the weekend.
  • Snow, sleet, freezing rain — this is the forecast for the weekend.
In quotes

Lastly, em dashes are inserted between a quote and its speaker.

  • “To be or not to be, that is the question.” — Hamlet

Compare this:

  • “To be or not to be, that is the question.” – – Hamlet

If you’re still not convinced what the big deal is about using hyphens, ask yourself which one of the above looks more professional? Set yourself apart from what the majority of others are doing incorrectly.

Formatting

The proper way to use insert em dashes, according to AP Style, are with a space before and after. Academic style guides such as MLA and APA require no spaces. Personally, I like the way the em dash looks with the spaces. I think it’s more readable.

How to create em dashes on your computer keyboard

There are several ways to do this. Microsoft Word automatically creates en and em dashes when you make the following keystrokes:

En dash:

Word → space → two hyphens → space → next word.

When you hit the space bar after the next word, an en dash is created.

 

Em dash:

Word → two hyphens → word.

When you hit the space bar after the next word, an em dash is created. If you are using AP Style, you can then go back and insert spaces before and after the dash.

Numeric Keys:

En dash = Alt + 0150

Em dash = Alt + 0151

Hold the Alt key down and enter the numeric keys. When you release the Alt key, the dashes are formed.

Character Map

character-map

The character map, found in the Windows 10 start menu under “Windows Accessories,” can be used to copy and paste en and em dashes. Once the character map is open, choose the font you are using. Then, scroll through that font until you find the en or em dash. You then select and copy the character and you can paste it into your document or text. This is the most time-consuming method, but some laptop keyboards do not allow the creation of these dashes with the Alt and numeric keys. So if you’re not using MS Word or a desktop computer, you may have to use the character map to insert them.

em-dash

 

 

 

 

 

Phone

Luckily, our mobile devices provide an easy way to insert en and em dashes. I discussed this in my previous post.

 

 

 

 

Pro Writing Tools — On Your Phone?

Did you know you can make an em dash and en dash on your phone’s keyboard? As a professional writer, I was really excited about this feature when I discovered it. But anyone can — and should — use this feature when posting to professional social media or your business blog from your phone.

  • Go to your phone’s keyboard and choose the numbers display.
  • Find the hyphen. Now, press and hold the button.
  • A menu pops up that shows the em (long) dash on the left, underscore in the middle, and en (medium) dash on the right. (There’s also a tiny bullet dot on the far right.)
  • Just slide your finger to the one you want to insert, and let go.

 

emdashphone

I know, right? How cool is that?

Why should you use an em or en dash rather than just a regular old hyphen? There are several important reasons, which I’ll discuss in my next post!