‘Regarding the Em Dash’

Adam O’Fallon Price:

For me, there is no punctuation mark as versatile and appealing as the em dash. I love the em dash in a way that is difficult to explain, which is, probably, the motivation of this essay. And my love for it is emphasized by the fact that many writers never, or rarely, use it—even disdain it. It is not, so to speak, an essential punctuation mark, the same way commas or periods are essential. You can get along without it and most people do. I don’t remember being taught to use it in elementary, middle, or high school English classes; I’m not even sure I was aware of it then, and I have no clear recollection of when or why I began to rely on it, yet it has become an indispensable component of my writing.

Like Price, I use em dashes often in my writing. A small but nerdy stylistic change I’ve made in my usage is to not leave a space between the dashes—I prefer how it looks without the space. It’s more aesthetically pleasing to me. As a freelancer, however, I realize my editors will be sure I conform to the publication’s style guide rather than my personal one.

(via Michael Rockwell)