Em dash usage in broken sentence

edeleon's picture

Hello all. Please let me know if this has been answered elsewhere.

I need to set a sentence with an em dash. But, because of space reasons, the sentence needs to break. How would I set something like the example below? Does the em dash go to the top line or the bottom one?

blah blah blah--
blah blah etc

OR do you place it like so:

blah blah blah
--blah blah etc

I remember seeing an article that covers this situation but I can't seem to find it at the moment.

midnight9's picture

I've seen #1 too. And I believe Illustrator does it that way with justified text blocks (not to say Illustrator is em dash god, though).

William Berkson's picture

Felici's 'Compete Manual of Typography' says that much typesetting software sees an em or en dash as an appropriate place to break a line. So I guess the first would be the common wisdom.

Bringhurst in 'Elements of Typographic Style' recommends using en dashes to set off phrases,with a word space before and after. The em dash he recommends using only to introduce dialogue (beginning the sentence), which he says is the European practice.

edeleon's picture

True. Example 1 does look clearer. I've gone this route for my em dash example. Thanks!

I remember having a link at home, somewhere, explaining all the rules regarding em and en dashes in breaking lines such as this. I'll post it as soon as I find it.

Stephen Coles's picture

I would go for example 1, if only because it looks better with the
left alignment and maybe reads slightly clearer.

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