Management Assistance Program

The Em Dash for Lawyers

By OBA MAP Director Jim Calloway

This week’s tip covers a typographic symbol, the em dash, which is like a hyphen — but longer (see what I did there?). So why would a lawyer use an em dash?

Here’s the definition of em dash from Thesaurus.com: “In general, the em dash is seen as being more interruptive or striking than other punctuation, so it is often used stylistically to draw a reader’s attention to a particular bit of information.”

An em dash can be useful in legal writing to emphasize important points. On my iPhone, two hyphens are changed to an em dash, but it doesn’t work that way in word processing software. There are many ways to add an em dash to your documents, so read this quick outline by digital trends to pick out your preferred method of inserting one.

Why is it called an em dash? Because in typography, the dash was as long as the capital M as opposed to the en dash, which was the size of the capital letter N.