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Dashes

Dashes can be used to set off material in the midst of a sentence. However, one should try to avoid using them at all. When choosing between dashes and other forms of punctuation (such as commas and parentheses), dashes should be used sparingly and primarily when the material deserves special emphasis. By contrast, parenthetical ideas may be lost. In typing or word processing, a dash is formed by placing one space before and one space after two consecutive hyphens.
 
Incorrect: The judge knew the defendant--she had been his third wife--and he therefore recused himself.

Correct: The judge knew the defendant -- she had been his third wife -- and he therefore recused himself.


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