Friday, September 10, 2021

Hyphens, Em-dashes, and Ellipses

 

(From ESL Grammar: Link)

Some writers have emailed asking if we had a rule at 42 Stories Anthology that hyphens counted as words. 


This is not a case of "rules." Hyphens change your word count. 

You can send a story that you counted by hand that's 42 words with a 42-character title and 42 word 3rd-person bio, but you didn't use wordcounter.net as we recommend and your numbers come out off. 

Explanation below.

Simple solution: Use wordcounter.net as recommended and don't count by hand. 

Maybe you're wondering "Why?"

No one wants to count 42 words out of thousands of stories by hand, so we use wordcounter.net. 

For the title, wordcounter.net counts spaces between, after, and before as characters. Please keep that in mind with titles.

Why are some hand-counted word counts and the generators sometimes counting differently? 

Look at this sentence written three ways:

"Hello, he said"
"Hello - he said"
"Hello-he said"


The sentence without hyphens should be three words. Microsoft Word Docs shows three words at the bottom to your left.



When you connect two words, they become one word as shown in the Microsoft Word Doc counter.



Below is a hyphen used to be an em-dash. You should not use a hyphen like an em-dash. Some counters read your hyphen like an extra word as shown in the Microsoft Word Doc


Wordcounter.net recognizes the dash is not a word, so if you used Microsoft Word instead, our counts will not match. Wordcounter.net is more accurate, so we use this site instead of Microsoft Word



Below is a separated em-dash for a pause, which is what writers should use for pauses. Notice the counter on Microsoft Word recognizes that the em-dash is not a word. Microsoft Word counts the hyphen as a word and not an em-dash, because the hyphen is placed in the sentence incorrectly and the software doesn't recognize it.

Em-dash example



If you are using hyphens like em-dashes, I recommend that you stop doing it in all of your writing. Hyphens are generally used to connect two words into one and similar situations. Hyphens are not for pauses between words. 

I won't get into whether em-dashes should technically be separated or connected to words. For the anthology, either way is fine. Be creative. In both circumstances, wordcounter.net and Microsoft Word Docs displays the correct number as shown below:


However, convertcase.net doesn't get the correct wordcount when you connect two words with an em-dash. 

Here's wordcounter.net ignoring the em-dash


Here's convertcase.net counting the same sentence as two words with an em-dash connecting words


Both counters are good for different purposes. When checking numbers, the staff at 42 Stories Anthology uses wordcounter.net because it's more accurate. 

When putting a title in all CAPS, we use convertcase.net.

Ellipses
Microsoft Word and convertcase.net count . . . as 3 words. Wordcounter.net does not, which is why I use it and not Microsoft Word when checking numbers. This could be another reason numbers don't always match. Wordcounter.net is accurate and updated frequently.
 
Also, ". . ." with spaces is a correct ellipsis and ... without spaces isn't correct. 

Off Topic
Please wait 6 months after submitting your story before inquiring on its status. 

On the Release
Many writers are in a hurry for the anthology to come out, so is the staff. We are trying hard to find great works and get the book out and will respond to submissions within approximately 6 months.

Update as of September 10, 2021
Stories accepted: 1,479
Stories needed: 285 to complete the anthology

Note: If you accidently used a hyphen as a pause between words in a story we accepted, you can email the anthology (42anthologysubs@gmail.com) a revised version of your story. Please check your numbers in wordcounter.net. 

Related note: Let's all combine our efforts to end the double hyphen. Below is the face most editors make when they see -- in a story. 

Have a safe and happy month.