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View Full Version : What does &mdash mean??


Turbo Dog
10-25-2003, 10:44 AM
It started showing up all over the place not too long ago, and I'm too dumb to figure it out. It doesn't make any sense to me. Is it geekspeak for etc? What?

sailor
10-25-2003, 10:53 AM
Seems like the html code for m-dash which a longer dash than your standard - dash.

Johnny L.A.
10-25-2003, 10:55 AM
Are you using Netscape? I usually use Netscape 4.7, and I see it a lot. I don't see &mdash when I use Explorer. I think "&mdash" is just a dash (-), and that for some reason the browswer doesn't recognize the character properly. (Could be another symbol, but I'm pretty sure it's a dash.)

FWIW, you can use symbols such as hearts on SDMB, but you need to be using Explorer to see them. (I don't see them when I use Netscape.)

Johnny L.A.
10-25-2003, 10:56 AM
Or it's a longer dash -- such as the double-dash I've just used -- as sailor says.

Liberal
10-25-2003, 10:57 AM


Alt + 0151

Turbo Dog
10-25-2003, 11:01 AM
Usually I use Netscape. I had an initial feeling that it was some type of coding thing, but it seems weird to me that I haven't seen it until about two months ago. Is it a new code? I never saw it and then suddenly it is showing up all over the place.

Turbo Dog
10-25-2003, 11:07 AM
Also, I see it occasionally in MS Word documents. I think that is what is confusing me.

Derleth
10-25-2003, 11:39 AM
—

I can see the above code correctly, and I'm currently using Opera on Windows ME. My character encoding is US ASCII.

And, yes, it is a seperate glyph from the en-dash (-). It has a distinct encoding on the extended character set. It is not in ASCII, really, but US ASCII is apparently an ASCII extension which includes it. ASCII only includes the en-dash.

If you do not see an em-dash (what the long dash is called) as the long dash, your browser or your character encoding is inadequate. (If you see it as —, your browser is not parsing the code. If you see a character other than a long dash, your encoding is off.)

To type it into your post in a portable way, type —.

(To type what I typed above, type —.)

Cleophus
10-25-2003, 11:45 AM
By default, Word converts a "--" to a &mdash.

Redsland
10-25-2003, 12:41 PM
If you are asking about the purpose of the em-dash, it is used as a long pause in a sentence, or to set off parenthetical material (e.g., no one believed him--he always lied).

Its shorter cousin, the en-dash, is used to separate the two numbers or words that define a range (e.g., 6-9 p.m.).

The even shorter hyphen (erroneously seen above) is used to connect multi-word modifiers and the occasional prefix, or to separate a word at the end of a line of type.

VernWinterbottom
10-25-2003, 02:42 PM
And if you're wondering about the origin of the term em-dash and en-dash, it dates to the days when metal type was hand set using individual characters. the capital M, or em, was the widest piece of type. Its printing surface was roughly square. An em-space was a blank piece of type as wide as an em. An em-dash was a dash as wide as an em. An en was half the width of an em.

Mister Rik
10-25-2003, 03:06 PM
The reason you're actually seeing the coding "&mdash" instead of seeing an actual em-dash is because the proper coding should be "&emdash" (note the "e" in there). Since "&mdash" is improper, the browser doesn't know what it is and so shows the code.

It's kind of like when an HTML page has a closing tag, but the opening tag is missing. You'll see the < /b > displayed on the page.

Mister Rik
10-25-2003, 03:08 PM
Okay, now I look like an idiot.

11811
10-25-2003, 09:10 PM
The en dash is also used in place of a hyphen when a word requires more than one hyphen.

In the phrase "Pro-sports-oriented coverage" the second hyphen would be replaced with an en dash. The idea is that the two portions most commonly joined with a hyphen retain the hyphen, while the least commonly joined portion is attached with an en dash.

11811

Wikkit
10-26-2003, 12:10 AM
Originally posted by VernWinterbottom
And if you're wondering about the origin of the term em-dash and en-dash, it dates to the days when metal type was hand set using individual characters. the capital M, or em, was the widest piece of type. Its printing surface was roughly square. An em-space was a blank piece of type as wide as an em. An em-dash was a dash as wide as an em. An en was half the width of an em. Which is also why they should be called m-dash and n-dash. em and en is almost as dumb as calling something a wye adapter, when it's shaped like the letter Y.

Achernar
10-26-2003, 01:12 AM
Originally posted by Phase42
Okay, now I look like an idiot.Ha. Just F everybody's I, here's the official list of HTML Character Entity References (http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/sgml/entities.html). "mdash" is 13th from the very end. The old Netscape browsers (before Netscape 6) were made before this list, so I guess they have an excuse for not getting it right. But Netscape 6+ and Internet Explorer 5+ should show them all, for the most part.

typhoon
10-26-2003, 01:34 AM
Wow, a lot of misinformation here.

Here's an actual, honest-to-god true answer: The reason Mozilla displays &amp;mdash literally is because THERE'S NO SEMI-COLON AT THE END. This means IT'S INVALID CODE. Internet Explorer will render it as the right character anyway, BUT IT'S BEHAVING INCORRECTLY.

Achernar
10-26-2003, 01:42 AM
Nobody's talking about Mozilla. The oldfangled Netscape browser that Johnny L.A. mentioned is not based on Mozilla like Netscape 6 is. And I don't think it's just a coding error. My webpage has em dashes coded correctly, and ISTR that it shows up wrong in Netscape Navigator 4.something in Unix.

Wikkit
10-26-2003, 01:08 AM
Arguably, all Netscape is based on Mozilla, since Mozilla was the name of the beast that slayed NCSA Mosaic before Netscape was called Netscape.

Achernar
10-26-2003, 01:19 AM
I stand corrected.

Turbo Dog
10-26-2003, 08:42 AM
I think I got it now. Thanks everyone!