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Em dashes, Ebooks, and Berkshire’s Little Book of Mormon

By Mary Bagg

Conversations about Mormonism during these early months leading up to the US presidential campaign have been notable, notes Berkshire’s CEO Karen Christensen, for a lack of knowledge of the basics tenets of the faith, except for the avoidance of coffee and Coke. Berkshire has decided to combine some of the articles we’ve published on the subject by leading scholars, each focused on a different and interesting aspect of the religion and its history. In the interest of a better-informed citizenry (both national and global) and in the hope of better-informed conversations with our friends and neighbors, Berkshire is creating The Little Book of Mormon: 11 Experts Explain the History, Beliefs, and Rituals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We plan first, for expediency, to publish in ebook format. The following Sykpe chat with Berkshire’s designer Anna Meyers, who is in the midst of typesetting the files for their entrance into the e-world, transpired about an hour ago.

[2/9/12 9:41:22 AM] Mary Bagg: Here’s a question, what about the em dashes?????????  are they OK for an ebook, I ask at the last minute.

[2/9/12 9:41:41 AM] Anna Myers: Oh, let me check –

[2/9/12 9:53:02 AM] Anna Myers: It looks like to display properly, you can find and replace the em-dashes with a bit of code:


I can do this at the code-editing stage.

[2/9/12 9:53:24 AM] Anna Myers: This article explains the issues with regular em-dashes:

[2/9/12 9:55:53 AM] Anna Myers: If you want to see it in action (switching from goobledy-gook to a proper em-dash) – you can open up this page and paste in this bit of text and code in the box:


I want my em-dash to go here‌—‌isn’t that lovely!

[2/9/12 9:56:50 AM] Anna Myers: Oh, and hit “test the code”!


[2/9/12 9:56:59 AM] Mary Bagg: OK, I trust you, I read over the article quickly. But I tried the exercise anyway, and it works!  I suppose one of the simplest things would be to encourage copyeditors and authors to rely less on em dashes and make their sentences short.

[2/9/12 9:57:09 AM] Mary Bagg: shorter

[2/9/12 9:58:11 AM] Anna Myers: Yeah, ebooks are a brave new world!

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