ChanteSez … Make a dash for it, part 3

Last one on dashes — for now. Dashes are used for attribution. Typically, this isn’t the same kind of attribution you’d see in the middle of a sentence when someone is quoted. Those attributions are set off by commas.

Dashes are used with what ChanteSez are independent quotes. Often they are part of an introduction, like at the start of a chapter. Some examples:

  • “We like the cars, the cars that go boom!” — Tigra and Bunny of L’Trimm
  • If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.  — H. Mann
  • I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.  — Shakespeare


  1. I waited for parts 2 and 3 to be posted before asking this 🙂

    What about the case where it’s used to demark a break in thought? For example, I might take this sentence — which is admittedly torturous to read — and break it in the middle just to illustrate the usage. That’s the case I turn to most often. A space news site that I keep up with has a lead writer who abuses this use of the dash terribly. Every time I read his articles, I think “not a real journalist” 🙂

    I wonder if I should put spaces around the dash or not. I frequently see it used without any spaces (the quick brown fox–with great energy, natch–jumped over the rest of the keyboard) and it just looks weird to me.

    1. Actually, Chris, that first usage is correct. Even if it looks funny. You’re right, though, that it should be used sparingly, especially in one paragraph.

      And there should be spaces on both sides of the dash!

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