The Correct and Effective Use of En Rules without Spaces in Your Thesis or Dissertation

The Correct and Effective Use of En Rules without Spaces in Your Thesis or Dissertation
As you draft your thesis or dissertation, you will likely discover that you need to use en rules, so you will also need to understand how to use them correctly. Longer than a hyphen and shorter than an em rule, an en rule or en dash can be used closed up without any spaces around it or with spaces on either side depending on its function. Using en rules without spaces often presents particular difficulties for authors due to confusion regarding whether an en rule or a hyphen should be used in a particular situation, so the following advice may prove helpful.

An en rule without spaces around it is used with the meaning ‘to’ or ‘and’ between numerals that form a range, such as page numbers, dates and times (‘pp.13–26,’ ‘2010–2013’ and ‘10.30–11.30’). It should not be used in combination with ‘between’ or ‘from,’ however, which is to say that ‘2010–2013,’ ‘from 2010 to 2013’ and ‘between 2010 and 2013’ are all correct, but ‘from 2010–2013’ and ‘between 2010–2013’ are not.
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An en rule without spaces is also used between words that indicate a range, such as months and days of the week (‘March–June’ or ‘Tuesday–Thursday’), or locations on a route, as in ‘the London–York railway line.’ Similarly, an en rule can be used without spaces around it between words or names to indicate a meeting place, as in ‘the Canada–United States border,’ or a competition or game, such as ‘the Celtic–Aberdeen match.’

An en rule without spaces is the right choice between the names of the coauthors of a test or theory, such as ‘the Mann–Whitney test’ or ‘the Smith–Jones theory,’ and in compound nouns or adjectives derived from two names, as in ‘Marxism–Leninism’ (noun) and ‘Marxist–Leninist’ (adjective). The en rule is used in the same way between the names of people or nationalities to indicate a connection, as it is in ‘a Chinese–Japanese heritage.’ However, if the first part of the compound is a word that cannot stand on its own (a prefix, for instance), a hyphen should be used instead of the en rule (a Sino-Japanese heritage).

An en rule without spaces can also be used between the elements of a ratio to represent ‘to,’ as in ‘the sugar–water ratio for hummingbird food’ or ‘the male–female ratio of participants.’ On the other hand, the en rule is used without spaces to represent ‘and’ between words to indicate a close relationship, such as ‘the author–editor relationship’ or ‘red–green colour blind.’

Sometimes hyphens are used instead of en rules in the above situations, and occasionally thesis and dissertation guidelines will specify (via instructions or examples) that hyphens can or should be used for certain elements, such as page number ranges. While following these guidelines is always wise, keep in mind that hyphens can cause confusion in some situations. ‘Red-green’ with a hyphen, for instance, means a colour that is reddish green, not ‘red and green’ as in ‘red–green colour blind,’ and ‘author-editor’ with a hyphen means one person who is both an author and an editor, whereas with an en rule the term refers to two people – an author and an editor. Similarly, ‘Smith-Jones’ with a hyphen indicates one person with a double name, whereas ‘Smith–Jones’ with an en rule indicates two people, and the en rule retains this meaning even if one of the names is double barrelled. For example, ‘Smith–Jones-Jackson’ refers to two people with the first named Smith and the second named Jones-Jackson; were a hyphen used instead of the en rule, as in ‘Smith-Jones-Jackson,’ the result would be confusing.

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