Longer Dashes

I like using big dashes that are twice the size of a regular em dash. When I was using Windows Scrivener, it was easy. I’d just stick two em dashes next to each other and everything would be fine.

However, on the Mac, doing so creates a tiny space in-between the em dashes, which I feel looks unprofessional.

Does anyone know how to fix this?

Try alt + shift + -. Or do you want something even larger?

I rummaged around for an answer and only have a partial one.

First, some history: In Virginia Woolf’s novels, she used double em-dashes quite often.

Next, a double em dash is called a horizontal bar, also known as a quotation dash. It is used to introduce quoted text (sometimes). This is the standard method of printing dialogue in some languages. Look at the font you are using and see if it has the glyph. EB Garamond contains U+2015 “Horizontal Bar”, U+2E3A “Two-em dash” and U+2E3B “Three-em dash”. Not all fonts will have a glyph for the horizontal bar. Typesetting two em dashes side by side may or may not work depending on the kerning.

If your workflow is Scrivener=intermediate file=LaTex, there are several solutions in Latex.

See: tex.stackexchange.com/questions … -em-dashes

LibreOffice and OpenOffice also let you insert the horizontal bar U2015 character under the Insert - Special Character menus. You can then copy this and paste it into any Scrivener doc.

You can paste the character into a special doc in your Research, then within Scrivener you can go to that doc, copy the bar, and paste it into any doc in your manuscript.

It is also possible to include some code in your Mac system preferences (Keyboard - Text) so that typing the code will see it replaced in Scrivener by the horizontal bar. Using three hyphens in a row is one option here, or four, but you need to be sure that scriv will not too-quickly replace the first two hyphens with an em- or en-dash.


If you want a horizontal bar (or similar) in Scrivener:
(1) Edit
(2) Special Characters
(3) Punctuation
(4) Em Dash
(5) Related Characters…select horizontal bar and insert it into the page
(6) Select and copy horizontal bar
(7) Apple sign
(8) System Preferences
(9) Language & Text
(10) Text
(11) Click the plus sign
(12) In the “Replace” column, enter your own code, e.g. —
(13) Paste the horizontal bar in the “With” column
(14) Close Language & Text
(15) Back in Scrivener (or any other program), your replace code should work

If I type three hyphens now, I get ― (a horizontal bar…almost identical to an em dash).

Thanks for the tips - I am still having trouble though. I tried the method mentioned above with Scrivener Edit menu and pasting the Horizontal Bar into Text under System Preferences.

Now I’ve used TextExpander and use the keystrokes ; - to inert the Horizontal Bar I copied from the Scrivener Edit menu as mentioned above.

Trouble is, I can’t tell tell the difference on the screen between Horizontal Bar and Em Dash, but I think the Horizontal Bar is supposed to be noticeably longer, no?

Is it the fonts I’m using maybe? Does every font have a Horizontal Bar? Any other ideas on why I can’t see any difference?

In the Special Character palette — I guess it must depend on system, on my machine, to find Horizontal Bar I have to choose “Punctuation - All”, and it’s in a different place from Briar Kit’s screenshot” — if you look on the right hand side, at the bottom you will see "Related Characters” which shows how it is represented in all the fonts on your system. Click on any of them and at the top it will give you the name of the font.

Basically, I would guess that most monospaced fonts use the same glyph as for em-dash.

Mr X

Different fonts do have different glyphs for different characters, sure. So if you want to be totally sure that what you have is a horizontal bar rather than an em or en dash, you can do this:

insert a hyphen, an en dash (Option-hyphen), an em dash (Option-Shift-hyphen) and your horizontal bar on three different lines, one above the other. Then select all three lines and change the font. Try a bunch of them and see if there are any differences, If after a dozen or so font changes, the bar and the em dash are always the same length, I guess what you are inserting with your Textexpander snippet is not a horizontal bar after all.

  • asotir

Not all fonts will have a glyph for the horizontal bar. I pointed this out above.
Choose a font that has the horizontal bar and then compare the output to one that does not.
Your screen output may vary from the printed output.

I have a query that is somewhat related.

In Scriv under Preferences -> Corrections, there is the option to replace double hyphens with em-dashes. However, I would like to replace double hyphens with en-dashes. Is this possible? Curiously enough when I type a double hyhen and get an em-dash, if I delete the em-dash and immediately type another double hyphen, I get an en-dash.

I appreciate that it is possible to get an en-dash using Option->hyphen, but quickly double tapping hyphen and having it turn into an en-dash is much quicker (for me :smiley: ). I use date and page ranges very frequently in both main text and footnotes and prefer to use an en-dash as a separator, as the em-dash is too long.

Perhaps this might be best as a post in Wish List (double hyphen for en-dash, triple hyphen for em-dash).

As a general character substitution tip: if you don’t like a character used by one of the built-ins, you can create your own using the system text substitution tool. In System Preferences, Keyboard, Text tab, there is a replacement table. Create your two/three hyphen shortcuts there. Make sure “Symbol and text substitution” is enabled in Scrivener’s Corrections preference pane, and I would also disable the standard em-dash correction to avoid potential conflicts.

Great, thanks Ioa.