Using En Rules without Spaces Correctly and Effectively
An en rule or en dash is longer than a hyphen and shorter than an em rule. It 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 difficulties for authors due to confusion regarding whether an en rule or a hyphen should be used in a particular situation, so a little clarification may prove helpful.
An en rule is used without spaces around it with the meaning ‘to’ or ‘and’ between numerals that form a range, such as page numbers, dates and times (‘pp.22–54,’ ‘1995–2014’ and ‘9.30–10.45’). However, it should not be used in combination with ‘between’ or ‘from,’ which is to say that ‘1995–2014,’ ‘from 1995 to 2014’ and ‘between 1995 and 2014’ are all correct, but ‘from 1995–2014’ and ‘between 1995–2014’ are not.
An en rule is also used without spaces between words that indicate a range, such as months and days of the week (‘January–April’ or ‘Monday–Saturday’) or locations on a route, as in ‘the London–York railway line.’ Similarly, an en rule without spaces around it can be used between words or names to indicate a meeting place, such as ‘the Canada–United States border,’ or a competition or game, as in ‘the Celtic–Aberdeen match.’
An en rule without spaces is also the right choice between the names of the coauthors of a test or theory, such as ‘the Mann–Whitney test’ or ‘the Taylor–Johnson theory,’ and in compound nouns or adjectives derived from two names, as in ‘Marxism–Leninism’ (noun) and ‘Marxist–Leninist’ (adjective). In the same way, the en rule is used between the names of people or nationalities to indicate a connection of some sort, such as ‘a Chinese–Japanese heritage,’ but 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 (Sino-Japanese heritage).
Between the elements of a ratio an en rule without spaces around it can represent ‘to’ as it does in ‘the flour–water ratio for dough’ or ‘the chemotherapy–nonchemotherapy ratio of patients.’ On the other hand, the en rule is used without spaces to represent ‘and’ between words to indicate a close relationship, as in ‘the author–editor relationship’ or ‘red–green colour blind.’
Hyphens are often used instead of en rules in the above situations, and some guidelines will even specify (via instructions or examples) that hyphens can or should be used, with page number ranges being a common example. Keep in mind, however, that hyphens can cause confusion in some cases. ‘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, ‘Taylor-Jones’ with a hyphen indicates one person with a double name, whereas ‘Taylor–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, ‘Taylor–Jones-Jackson’ refers to two people with the first named Taylor and the second named Jones-Jackson; were a hyphen used instead of the en rule, as in ‘Taylor-Jones-Jackson,’ the result would be confusing.
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