Double dashes substituted for dashes in mmd->latex compile

When I do an mmd->latex compile in some but not all instances what look like plain dashes are being converted to double dashes. Clues as to why it’s happening and how I might stop it would be appreciated.


I have no idea what’s going on inside Scrivener here, but since you asked only for “clues”, maybe a bit of LaTeX basics can help. Ignore this if you already know it.

LaTeX (as does all serious typesetting software) supports three kinds of dash: a hyphen, an en-dash (the width of the letter ‘N’), and an em-dash (the width of the letter ‘M’). The first is for splitting words at the end of a line, combining words that haven’t-yet-become-a-single-word, etc; the second is used to separate two dates (1996–1998), and the third — by far the most overused — is punctuation that separates a phrase from the enclosing sentence (hmm, technically, there aren’t supposed to be spaces around an em-dash, but I’ve always thought that that looks ugly). When writing these things for LaTeX, you use a single dash, “-”, to get a hyphen; two dashes, “–”, to get an en-dash; and three dashes, “—”, to get an em-dash. If there’s an en-dash in the Scrivener text, I would expect that MMD would replace it with two hyphens.

Thanks, Pete. I was familiar with the names, but was unclear about the differences among them. With your explanation in mind, in my writing I have been using one dash for an en-dash, two for an em-dash. Guess I need to change my practice.

Your explanation may also explain why I’m getting the results I’ve been getting when exporting from Scrivener: Because they’re the right results, interpreted as problemmatic by me. What I was calling double dashes appeared exclusively between dates and page numbers. My understanding now is that if I left them alone they would compile as en-dashes when I compile my LaTeX file to pdf.

All these long years I’ve been thinking I’ve been seeing dashes when they were actually en-dashes.

Thanks again,

You’re welcome.

Just another twist here: Microsoft Word and, presumably, most other word processors, drop in an em-dash when you type to hyphens in a row. It’s LaTeX that’s out of line, although the behavior of LaTeX seems more sensible when you look at the big picture.