Dashes and Parentheses

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Using Dashes

A dash is a long horizontal mark twice the length of a hyphen. On most typewriters and computers dashes are represented by typing two hyphens. Dashes are emphatic. They are nearly like emphatic parentheses. To be effective, dashes, like exclamation points, should not be overused. Dashes indicate an abrupt change of thought. Sometimes they set

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Dashes with Nonrestrictive Modifiers

Commas are normally used to set off nonrestrictive modifiers. However, nonrestrictive modifiers can be set off by dashes for emphasis or if the modifiers contain commas or other punctuation that could confuse the reader. Incorrect: Some expensive films, Heaven’s Gate, for example, have been big flops. (Relationships not clear) Correct: Some expensive films–Heaven’s Gate, for

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Using Parentheses

Parentheses set off material not essential to the meaning of the text. They are used for asides and explanations when the material is not essential or if it is made up of more than one sentence. Parentheses may contain a complete sentence or sentences. Example: He had to go through the usual process to get

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Parentheses with Certain Numbers and Letters

Parentheses are used around numbers showing dates (usually dates of birth and/or death), inserted figures, or numbers or letters in an itemized series (such as a series of steps). Date: Joshua Chamberlain (1829-1914) received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his role at Gettysburg. Inserted figures: The Senate vote was very close (50-48). Numbers in

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Punctuation Inside Parentheses

When a parenthetical phrase or sentence interrupts the middle of a sentence, do not capitalize the first letter inside the parentheses unless, of course, the word is a proper noun or proper adjective. Example: We saw Roseate Spoonbills (they have an exquisite pink color) on our trip to Texas. The first letter in a parenthetical

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