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Em Dash: A Sometimes Slippery Character In GroupWise

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip

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Posted: 4 Jun 1999

If our very small in-house survey of em dash functionality in GroupWise is any indicator, about half of you will have no clue what we're talking about here. The other half of you will loudly exclaim, "Ah, hah! So that's what's been going on! It's been driving me crazy!" (For those of you who have seen the little critters without knowing what to call them, an em dash is an extra-long dash.)

The actual em dash is not available in GroupWise, so most of us just type a couple of hyphens to represent that extra-long pause in narration. Those of you who have been blithely typing two hyphens and have seen absolutely nothing suspicious going on can come back next week for a more pertinent client tip.

Those of you who type two hyphens and get something variously described as a "square" or a "fat vertical bar," which bears no resemblance to two hyphens or an em dash, stick around for the explanation.

The GroupWise client includes a handy feature called QuickCorrect, for those of us who can't type or spell as successfully as we might wish. QuickCorrect is on by default, and helpfully replaces things like "adn" with "and" or "alot" with "a lot." To see what QuickCorrect has been doing for you,

  1. In the GroupWise client, open a new item.

  2. Put the cursor in the Subject or Message field.

  3. In the menu bar for the new item, click Tools > QuickCorrect.
QuickCorrect dialog box

If you've been having trouble with double hyphens turning into something weird, the first line in your QuickCorrect list will look just like ours. See that pesky critter in the right column across from "--"? That's the culprit!

We're not going to touch with a ten-foot pole why this is happening or when/if it will ever get fixed. We suspect it has something to do with the historical ties between GroupWise and WordPerfect with its numerous character sets. But we will tell you how to eliminate the annoyance.

  1. In the QuickCorrect dialog box, select the "--" line.

  2. Click Delete Entry > Close.

Voila! The problem's history! You can now type two hyphens in sequence to represent an em dash.

We wish, for the sake of the typographically minded, that we could provide steps to replace two hyphens with a bona fide em dash, but the resolution to that mystery still eludes us. If we stumble upon it (or if someone reading this tip enlightens us), we'll pass along that information as well.

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