[OS X TeX] typing em dash (---)

Ross Moore ross.moore at mq.edu.au
Mon Sep 16 19:07:57 EDT 2013

Hello Nicolae,

On 17/09/2013, at 8:33 AM, Nicolae Garleanu wrote:

> Thanks to all who replied. While I had one particular question I mind,
> there were actually two in my posting, as follows.
> 1) How not to have --- be replaced with an em-dash in the source? This was
> solved by unchecking smart dashes in
> 	Edit -> Substitutions -> Show Substitutions
> The solution is gratefully acknowledged.

Glad that works.
In the TeX world you do *not* want such substitutions happening behind
your back. See my comment further down concerning collaboration.

> 2) Supposing one does have an em-dash in the source, can that translate
> into an em-dash in the output? Not in my set-up. For instance, a minimal
> example would be as attached (if possible), and pasted below. Output as
> expected given my original posting, i.e., first dash becomes a blank
> space. I am just running pdflatex in the standard installation.

You would need to either:

  1.  specify the input encoding
  2.  have the endash character automatically converted to '--'
  3.  pre-filter your input to become pure ascii, 
      including conversions to --- or -- for the dashes,
      and to `...' for single quotes and  ``...'' for double quotes.

Option 3. is the most reliable, especially as you will undoubtedly
sometime be in a position where you send (La)TeX source to a colleague.
That colleague should not be put in a position of having to deal
with your choice to use 1. or 2. 

Just to indicate the problem more clearly, look at your email as 
I see it, in Apple's Mail program. The character that you have
inserted as an endash does not necessarily appear that way.
(This is *not* a TeX-only issue.)

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You can see the problem also in the quoted portion
immediately below.

> \documentclass[12pt]{article}
> \begin{document}
> ad ? asdas --- as asd
> \end{document}
> Nicolae

Hope this help,


Ross Moore                                       ross.moore at mq.edu.au 
Mathematics Department                           office: E7A-206      
Macquarie University                             tel: +61 (0)2 9850 8955
Sydney, Australia  2109                          fax: +61 (0)2 9850 8114

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