The two dashes most commonly used by typesetters are the em dash and the en dash. The em dash is what is usually meant by the word dash—a long mark with no space on either side. The en dash is shorter than an em dash; it is simply a specialized, slightly elongated hyphen that looks like this: –.
Dashes separate; hyphens join. The distinction usually holds true for em versus en dashes, too.
Em dashes are frequently used to set off parenthetical phrases, especially long or complex ones where something stronger than a comma is called for. If the parenthetical phrase comes at the end of a sentence, only one dash is needed to set it off—like this. If it is inserted into the middle of the sentence—like this—you need dashes on both sides.
The building—one of our oldest—will be reroofed.
not: The building—one of our oldest, will be reroofed.
Em dashes are occasionally used to join elements in certain institutional titles.
Sarah studied at Brigham Young University—Hawaii.
Do not substitute a hyphen with a space on each side of it or an en dash with a space on each side of it for an em dash.
En dashes are often used in place of hyphens to join two elements when at least one element contains two or more unjoined words.
a non–English speaker, post–high school, the Pre–Dental Hygiene Program
Inclusive dates and other number sequences may be printed with en dashes, rather than with hyphens.
2007–08, chapters 12–17, pages 3–10, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
An en dash is also used to indicate the minus sign in a grade.
A grade of C–
Note: Word processing programs can create dashes. In Microsoft Word, for example, you can use the “Insert” menu to add dashes to your documents.
See also hyphens.
Spell out months and days of the week; use numerals for years. Use no punctuation if listing just the month (or the season) and the year, but set the year off with commas if using the day of the month as well.
May 2016; spring 2015; a February 5, 2017, deadline
Join us on Thursday, April 28, for a celebration.
In consideration of your readers, it is important to include publication dates on all your printed and electronic materials.
Decades can be referred to with any of the following styles:
the 1990s, the ’90s, the nineties
Degrees are capitalized; however, the discipline is not:
Associate of Science in radiography, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in physics, Master of Arts, Master of Science in anatomy, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Education, Bachelor of Arts in computer science, Doctor of Philosophy in mass communications, Master of Arts in applied linguistics
Note also the following types of degree names:
Bachelor of Arts in English (English is a proper noun and is therefore capitalized.)
Master of Arts in Germanic studies (Germanic is a proper adjective and is therefore capitalized; studies is not capitalized.)
For official and ceremonial works such as Commencement, capitalization in names of degrees conferred at Indiana University should match the IU registrar’s official degree list. Consult the registrar for verification.
(This style was changed effective September 1, 2017. Previously, some disciplines were always capitalized.)
Note: The word bachelor’s is preferred over baccalaureate. When referring to degrees in a general way, do not capitalize them. Note that while bachelor’s and master’s end in ’s, the other generic words for degrees do not.
an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a doctoral degree or a doctorate
In references to degrees, the word degree is never capitalized.
Caryn earned her Master of Music degree last spring.
Use periods when abbreviating degrees.
A.S., B.A., B.A.J., B.S., B.F.A., B.S.N., M.A., M.B.A., Ph.D., Ed.D.
Pluralize abbreviations of degrees with ’s.
Degrees conferred at institutions other than Indiana University may not conform to IU style. For example, some universities abbreviate bachelor of arts as A.B. (from the Latin Artium Baccalaurens). You should verify these degree names in order to preserve the correct capitalization, abbreviation, and punctuation style.
IU grants the following honorary degrees:
D.F.A., Doctor of Fine Arts
D.Mus., Doctor of Music
D.Sc., Doctor of Science
L.H.D., Doctor of Humane Letters
LL.D., Doctor of Laws
See also abbreviations.
display type versus running copy
Display type refers to elements of a printed or electronic publication such as headlines, photo captions, text on an invitation or a poster, and other messages that often are not composed of complete sentences.
Running copy or running text refers to the sentences and paragraphs that form the “body” of a book chapter, a magazine article, a brochure, etc.
Style decisions applied to display type often differ from those applied to running copy. For example, headlines usually lack end punctuation; sentences within running copy never do.
Avoid use of the honorific title Dr. in reference to an academic who has earned a doctorate, unless it’s in a direct quote. Dr. may be used in reference to a medical doctor.
Lowercase references to the drop/add procedure.