There are three kinds of dashes used in university publications, each with its own uses. Most word-processing and page-layout programs can produce all three.
1. Hyphen ( - ). Used to separate the elements of a hyphenated compound or to break words at the end of lines of copy. See hyphens.
2. En dash ( – ). Used to indicate duration: 1974–77. See duration. The en dash also is used to separate the elements of a hyphenated compound in which (a) at least one of the elements is composed of two or more words or (b) both elements are hyphenated compounds. Do not put a space on either side of the en dash. See hyphens for clarification. When you can’t create an en dash, a hyphen will do.
3. Em dash ( — ). Used to introduce an explanatory or emphatic element; to indicate a sudden break in thought or speech; to create a break in continuity greater than that suggested by the comma; and to set off multiple nouns, when the nouns are the referents of a pronoun that is the subject of a summarizing clause. Do not put a space on either side of the em dash. In applications and formats that don’t allow em dashes, use two hyphens (--). Don’t overuse em dashes—never use more than a single em dash or pair of em dashes in a sentence. Consider commas and parentheses as alternatives.
UCCA 101 Communication Arts I—an introduction to college-level communication—is required of all Samford University freshmen.
She proofed the brochure copy—copy that could help recruit a generation of Samford University transfer students—for the sixth time.
He was able to surmount every obstacle but the last—a greased wall 50 feet in height.
Iceland, Malaysia, Peru—these are just some of the countries from which Samford University students come.
When em dashes fall between two clauses that normally would be separated by a comma, drop the comma.
Because some departments could not provide results by the deadline—for a number of good reasons—publication of the survey was delayed.
Use the sequence month-day-year. In a sentence, the year is set off by commas:
On September 15, 1995, she bought her first car.
On the day of her birth, Wednesday, June 12, 1974, it rained in Montgomery.
If the date is not given, no commas are needed:
She bought her first car in September 1995.
In invitations, flyers and similar announcements, give the day of the week before the date. The year is not necessary in many such publications, particularly if the name of the event includes it.
See also duration.
decision making (n.), decision-making (adj.)
On first reference, use the official name of the academic department: the Department of Art.
Capitalize a department’s name only when using the full, official name. If necessary, recast the sentence or use a vertical list to avoid confusion.
He teaches courses in the departments of physics, chemistry and biology.
Students may take courses in several departments, including physics, chemistry and biology.
Credit may be earned in courses taken in other departments, such as physics, chemistry and biology.
Scholarships in the sciences are available through the Department of Physics, the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biology.
On second reference, it is acceptable to use a short form such as art department, but do not capitalize such short forms. It is also acceptable, when writing about only one department, to use department as a short form:
The symposium was sponsored by the Department of English; five members of the department’s faculty made presentations.
Some department names may be shortened to just the subject name:
He is a member of the history faculty.
She was a member of the speech communication and theatre faculty; now she teaches in the psychology department.
Don’t use a short form when it might confuse your readers.
Confusing: He is now part of the French faculty.
Better: He is now part of the French department faculty.
Confusing: She has been teaching in history and political science for seven years.
Better: She has been teaching in the Department of History and Political Science for seven years.
Disability Support Services
Do not capitalize the names of academic disciplines or major or minor areas of study, except those derived from proper nouns. When the name of the discipline is used as part of a title, such as that of a department, capitalization is necessary, but don’t use it when speaking of the discipline in general terms:
Wrong: I studied History and English at Yale.
Right: I studied history and English at Yale.
Wrong: Graduate students in Management must complete 6 hours of thesis or nonthesis research.
Right: Graduate students in management must complete 6 hours of thesis or nonthesis research.
Wrong: Following are instructions for applying to the doctoral program in Sociology.
Right: Following are instructions for applying to the doctoral program in sociology.
See departments; programs; capitalization.
When describing a college or school of Samford University, use the official names and second references/abbreviations given below. Note capitalization and punctuation.
Howard College of Arts and Sciences (first reference) or arts and sciences (second and subsequent references), but never just “Howard”
School of the Arts or arts school (second and subsequent references)
Brock School of Business or business school (second and subsequent references), but never just “Brock”
Beeson Divinity School (first reference) or divinity school (second and subsequent references), but never just “Beeson”
Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education or education school (second and subsequent references)
Cumberland School of Law (first reference) or law school (second and subsequent references), but never just “Cumberland”
Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing or nursing school (second and subsequent references)
McWhorter School of Pharmacy (first reference) or pharmacy school (second reference), but never just “McWhorter”
Each should be preceded with the name of the university on first reference, as in
Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law
double major (n.), double-major (adj.), double-major (v.)
For better typesetting, delete double spaces between sentences. It is acceptable, but unnecessary to use double spaces between sentences in business letters.
To indicate duration or continuing or inclusive numbers such as dates, times or reference numbers, use the en dash as shown below. Don’t put a space on either side of the en dash.
fiscal year 1994–95
When indicating duration or inclusive numbers, use numerals for all numbers if using the en dash or if one of the numbers in the construction must be written in numerals:
The program accepts children age 0–5.
He sold 9–13 sets of encyclopedias each week.
When using a from . . . to construction, use to instead of the en dash, and include the first two digits of the second year:
Ronald Reagan was in office from 1980 to 1988.