Em dash (–), or elongated hyphen
- An em dash (–), or double hyphen, is used to highlight a phase; for example, “I went to the market–in Petersburg–to see what the fuss was about.” In this case, you are wanting the reader to clearly understand that Petersburg is important.
- If read aloud, the reader would read the phrase ‘in Petersburg’ with a highlighted tone from the rest of the sentence, to draw attention to the phrase.
- A double em dash (or four single hyphens) can be used to obscure an obscene word; for example, “It was a d___ shame.”
- An alternative, is to use brackets (); “I went to the market (in Petersburg) to see what the fuss was about.” In this case, you are not so concerned about the reader understanding where the market was.
- If read aloud, the reader would read the phrase ‘in Petersburg’ with the same tone as the rest of the sentence.
- To place emphasis on a specific word or phrase (e.g., make it emotive) you can italicize it; for example, “Justin went crazy when he heard about the event.”
- Underlining a word or phrase also draws the readers attention to the emphasis added. However, today, underlining tends not to be preferred in academic writing.
- Check your official style guide before using underlining; if in doubt, don’t use it.
- Use exclamations (!) sparingly in academic writing to highlight emotion (academic work is meant to be objective, and, therefore, emotion free). For example, “Finally!”