Many word processors automatically replace the double-hyphen with an em-dash. Yay, good! But this raises two questions. First, is that okay for ebooks? Second, some print books place a space character on each side of an em-dash, and some don't. In ebook reflowing, it's quite possible that two words that are joined (with no spaces) by an em-dash will be flowed as one long word. This could make the text look odd.
I prefer spaces around em-dashes in any case, except preceding a close-quote in dialog (or following an open-quote). Are there any guidelines on this?
Rather than adding all the fancy characters manually, it's best to get the word processor's Autoformatting capabilities to accomplish this task.
To enable Autoformatting for curled double quotes, curled single quotes, en dashes, and em dashes, perform the following steps (this guide uses Microsoft Word 2007 as an example):
Click the Windows Icon in the upper left Click Word Options Click Proofing Click AutoCorrect Options nder the Autoformat tab, de-select all boxes except for Straight Quotes for “Smart Quotes” and Hyphens (--) with Dash (—) Under the Autoformat as you Type tab, de-select all boxes except for Straight Quotes for “Smart Quotes” and Hyphens (--) with Dash (—) Now that Autoformatting is activated for the fancy characters you want, you can use the Find and Replace function (Ctrl-H) to quickly add them all in.
Perform the following steps in the Find and Replace window and select Replace (or Replace All if you feel lucky) after each step.
Important Note: This guide places quotes around anything that should be typed. Do not actually insert the quotes:
FIND """ REPLACE """ (adds fancy double quotes) FIND "'" REPLACE "'" (adds fancy single quotes) FIND "..." REPLACE "…"(adds ellipsis rather than three periods)[to type in the ellipsis you can press Ctrl-Alt-.] FIND "--" REPLACE "—" (adds em dash rather than two hyphens) FIND " - " REPLACE " – " (adds en dash rather than space-hyphen-space)[note: the FIND is space-hyphen-space and REPLACE is space-endash-space]
Look through your document and make sure that the fancy characters were inserted properly. This guide highly recommends the special characters for works of fiction, but it may be unnecessary for non-fiction.
If your keyboard has a number keypad you can also use Alt 0151 to get an em-dash and Alt 0133 for an ellipsis. If you use calibre to produce an EPUB for submitting to Smashwords/Amazon it will do a lot of this for you automatically.
BTW market research indicates that in Twitter promotion an em-dash between words, without spaces either side, is more effective than a hyphen.