What is a proper way to use a dash - (or hyphen) in writing?

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What is a proper way to use a dash - (or hyphen) in writing?

Julia, SLC Writing Tutor
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Re: What is a proper way to use a dash - (or hyphen) in writing?

Melissa, SLC Writing Tutor
There are several types of dashes in punctuation, but I will talk about the two most important ones and their uses.

- This is a regular dash or hyphen
— This is a longer dash, called an em-dash

The hyphen is most often used to combine to words that create an adjective before a noun.
Example:
Academic-writing decisions require clear-headed thinking.

She has an can-do attitude about writing.

The long em-dash is most commonly used to set off words for emphasis.
Example:
Well, I got an A on my essay—granted, I bribed a writing tutor to write it for me—but I passed!

All of my classes—physics, statistics, sociology, and calculus—I failed because I didn't visit the Student Learning Center for tutoring throughout the semester.
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Re: What is a proper way to use a dash - (or hyphen) in writing?

Julia, SLC Writing Tutor
Thanks a lot! Great examples!
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Re: What is a proper way to use a dash - (or hyphen) in writing?

seda, slc tutor
In reply to this post by Melissa, SLC Writing Tutor
I tend to use parenthesis to set off words from the rest of the sentence too. Can I assume that the difference between parentheses and em-dash would be that em-dash is used for emphatic purposes and parentheses are not?  

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Re: What is a proper way to use a dash - (or hyphen) in writing?

Melissa, SLC Writing Tutor
Yes! That's a good way to think about it. Usually what's inside the parenthesis is considered less important information or a side note. But the use of em dash is a stylistic choice to really emphasize.