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Why the Em-Dash Should Be Your Best Friend

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Why the em-dash should be your best friend


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Can take the place of a pair of commas, brackets, colons, and semicolons Spans, ranges, direction, conflict In chapters 8–12 From 2008–2014 Mumbai–Delhi railway BJP–Congress debate Joins separate words into a single word lunch is free for all free-for-all lunch lunch is a free-for-all


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Replacing a colon There are many things I love about SocialCops: the blogs, the email newsletters and the grammar TOTs. There are many things I love about SocialCops — the blogs, the email newsletters and the grammar TOTs.


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Replacing a colon I have three favorite foods — eggs, eggs and eggs. a complete sentence a list


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Replacing a colon There’s one thing I hate about work — the quiet. a complete sentence single-item list


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Replacing a semicolon (joins two sentences of equal significance) (joins two sentences to show a connection between them) SocialCops really knows how to party; we call it Friday Demos. SocialCops really knows how to party — we call it Friday Demos.


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Replacing a semicolon (joins two sentences of equal significance) (joins two sentences to show a connection between them) We love data — it’s our passion and best friend. a complete sentence a complete sentence


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Sentences with 1 em-dash The general rule [A complete sentence goes here] — [this can be a single-item list, multi-item list or another complete sentence].


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Pro tip Invert your list with an em-dash for emphasis. (You can’t do this with a colon!) This is what brought me to SocialCops — the demos, the awesome tech and captains ball. The demos, the awesome tech and captains ball — this is what brought me to SocialCops.


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Examples I think Viz might make it easier for you to do what you do every day — and tell great data stories.


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Examples I think Viz might make it easier for you to do what you do every day — and tell great data stories. ↓ I think Viz might make it easier for you to do what you do every day — tell great data stories.


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Examples I think Viz is the most powerful tool on the market because of its sophisticated features — maps at every level, beautiful templates, simple customization and easy embeds.


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Examples I think Viz is the most powerful tool on the market because of its sophisticated features — maps at every level, beautiful templates, simple customization and easy embeds. ↑ No problems!


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Examples After 1800 cups of coffee, 80 all-nighters and 50,000 lines of code, we are ready for the launch of Viz 2.0 — with a lot of cool and powerful features.


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Examples After 1800 cups of coffee, 80 all-nighters and 50,000 lines of code, we are ready for the launch of Viz 2.0 — with a lot of cool and powerful features. ↑ Doesn’t work. The author likely added this because they wanted to put a comma, but they thought there were too many commas already.


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Can take the place of a pair of commas, brackets, colons, and semicolons An em-dash is not a comma Spans, ranges, direction, conflict In chapters 8–12 From 2008–2014 Mumbai–Delhi railway BJP–Congress debate Joins separate words into a single word lunch is free for all free-for-all lunch lunch is a free-for-all


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Sentences with 1 em-dash Break up the sentence or simplify it: In the last four months, we drank 1800 cups of coffee, pulled 80 all-nighters and wrote 50,000 lines of code. Now we are ready for the launch of Viz 2.0, with a lot of cool and powerful features. or 1800 cups of coffee, 80 all-nighters and 50,000 lines of code later, we are ready to launch Viz 2.0 with lots of cool and powerful features.


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Sentences with 2 em-dashes Replacing brackets or commas Collect, a mobile data collection tool, is used by 140 partners around the world. Collect (a mobile data collection tool) is used by 140 partners around the world. Collect — a mobile data collection tool — is used by 140 partners around the world.


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Sentences with 2 em-dashes Replacing brackets or commas What’s outside the em-dashes must make sense on its own. Collect — a mobile data collection tool — is used by 140 partners around the world. Collect is used by 140 partners around the world.


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Sentences with 2 em-dashes Replacing brackets or commas Collect is a mobile data collection tool — used by BMGF, Tata Trusts, Unilever and Goonj — most of whom joined last year.


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Sentences with 2 em-dashes Replacing brackets or commas Collect is a mobile data collection tool — used by BMGF, Tata Trusts, Unilever and Goonj — most of whom joined last year. Collect is a mobile data collection tool most of whom joined last year. ↑ Not correct!


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Sentences with 2 em-dashes Replacing brackets or commas Collect is a mobile data collection tool — used by BMGF, Tata Trusts, Unilever and Goonj — most of whom joined last year. ↓ Collect is a mobile data collection tool used by BMGF, Tata Trusts, Unilever and Goonj, most of whom joined last year.


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Sentences with 2 em-dashes Example I know you’re super busy — not sure if you’ve had a chance to check out Viz — the easiest way to build maps.


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Sentences with 2 em-dashes Example I know you’re super busy — not sure if you’ve had a chance to check out Viz — the easiest way to build maps. ↓ I know you’re super busy. I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to check out Viz, the easiest way to build maps.


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Last notes Em-dashes are powerful, but only when you use them purposefully.


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