Jun 222011
 
  • – hyphen, used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word
    Correct: “second-order PT”, “Lennard-Jones potential”
    Wrong: “-1”
  • − minus, used to indicated negative numbers and the subtraction sign
    Correct: “1−2 = −1”
    Wrong: “second−order PT”
  • – en dash, used in ranges, used to contrast values, or illustrate a relationship between two things
    Correct: “pp. 38–55”, “Fermi–Dirac statistics”, “Hartree–Fock”
    Wrong: “–1”, “Lennard–Jones potential”
  • — em dash, demarcates a parenthetical thought
    Correct: “However, one might anticipate that in certain cases—in particular, when determining potential energy surfaces—the elimination of redundancies could pose a serious problem.”
    Wrong: “—1”

In latex you can get this in the following way using the standard keyboard dash (-)
Hyphen: Lennard-Jones,
Minus sign: $0$, $1$ and $-1$
En dash: Hartree–-Fock
Em dash: in certain cases---in particular?

For more info check out the wikipedia article on dash.

 June 22, 2011  Tips

  3 Responses to “Mastering hyphen, minus, en, and em”

  1. As you can see, I found your blog. Why is Lennard–Jones wrong? Because he was one guy with a double name? He is my academic great grandfather: LJ->Pople->Head-Gordon. Hopefully there is never a Lennard-Jones–Head-Gordon theory 🙂

  2. doh! Your parser took out double instances of the “-” character. Here is the former repeated with intended en-dashes represented as underscores.

    As you can see, I found your blog. Why is Lennard_Jones wrong? Because he was one guy with a double name? He is my academic great grandfather: LJ->Pople->Head-Gordon. Hopefully there is never a Lennard-Jones_Head-Gordon theory …

  3. Tony, that’s it, LJ is for one guy with a double name. I also realized that with the current fonts it’s very difficult to distinguish the hyphen from the en-dash.

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