John Dixon, independent medical writer and trainer in scientific writing skills, provides a useful tip for medical writers who work in MedComms.

John’s Linkedin page is at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johndixonlmm/

John’s web page is at https://librasciencecomms.co.uk

Note these “bites” are recorded online using the zoom.us platform and hence quality may be affected by variability in internet connectivity and quality of webcams. The tips, however, are always first class!

Recorded 30 April 2019. Produced by NetworkPharma.tv

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Transcript

Hi, I’m John Dixon, a trainer in scientific writing, and here’s a bite that I hope may help you with your writing.

Using the en dash to connect values in a range and for two-word concepts [NEXT SLIDE]

The en dash can be used to mean ‘to’ or ‘through’ for numeric or other ranges.
So, for example:

We estimate a success rate of 15–20%.

Figures 4–6 illustrate these findings.

See appendices C–F for supplementary information.

In each of these cases, the en dash can be used, and there’s no space between the dash and adjacent characters – i.e. it’s unspaced [NEXT SLIDE]

However, don’t use the en dash for numeric or other ranges when:

* the words ‘between’ or ‘from’ are necessary

* when numbers are negative

* and when an arithmetic symbol modifies a number

And here are some examples of when you wouldn’t use the en dash:

* Patients were recruited between 2013 and 2016.

* Temperature range: minus 4 to plus 30 0C

* Trials have included less than 50 to more than 1000 patients [NEXT SLIDE]

The en dash can also be used to join two words of equal weight … when it means ‘and’, ‘to’ or ‘versus’ … for instance:

* gas and liquid chromatography

* ligand to receptor binding

* cost versus benefit analysis [NEXT]

… and to join two names of equal importance … for instance:

* Guillain–Barré syndrome

* Kaplan–Meier plot [NEXT]

Here, the en dash is unspaced (word–word) [NEXT]

But do check your style guide, because not all style guides follow these principles.

Finally – a note on inserting dashes

There are many ways to insert dashes – some are difficult to remember, but there are easy ways!

So… you might want to look at my next byte: How to insert dashes.

Well, I hope that’s helpful. For more bites, visit NetworkPharma.tv

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[For the avoidance of doubt: this video is intended to be freely accessible to all. Please feel free to share and use however you like. Cheers Peter Llewellyn, Director NetworkPharma Ltd and Founder of the MedComms Networking Community activity at http://www.medcommsnetworking.com]