In every page title on tex.sx, it says

TeX - LaTeX - Stack Exchange

These horizontal lines between the words are hyphens (Unicode point U+002D "Hyphen-minus"). In proper typesetting, these should be dashes, either En Dashes (U+02013) "–" or Em Dashes (U+02014) "—". As I would say we're a community who cares about such details and who thus ought to be a role model for them, I'd appreciate to see that changed.

The difference between these three characters is directly reflected in (La)TeX by three distinct inputs, - (Hyphen-minus), -- (En Dash), and --- (Em Dash). A similar issue has been discussed at New user greeting., which now uses an Em Dash:

Welcome to Q&A for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems — check out the FAQ!

I'm not a big fan of the Em Dash, I think it interrupts text flow too strongly; nonetheless we should use dashes uniformly. Has anybody seen any other proper dashes around that would have to be adapted similarly? There are more pseudo-dashes (= Hyphen-Minuses) around here, e.g. after the title of a page, be it a question, "Frequently Asked Questions" or a user page:

Putting a bar in the margin - TeX - LaTeX - Stack Exchange

So if you were asking me, I'd say we should use En Dashes on all occurrences of a dash (except one), with a regular space before and after it. Exception: It might make sense to use an Em Dash between a page title and the site title and En Dashes in the page title, like

Putting a bar in the margin — [= Em Dash] TeX – [= En Dash] LaTeX – [=En Dash] Stack Exchange

This would reflect that there's a bigger "content break" between the first part and the rest than there is between the TeX, LaTeX, and Stack Exchange, but I don't know if that is a typographic no-no according to the one or the other typography bible.

Related questions (this will help with keeping everything consistent and preventing misinformation):

  • 4
    Bringhurst argues for an en-dash in all of these cases, which would make life easier.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 16:47
  • @JosephWright: Is that "easier than the status quo" or "easier than your recommendation about a combination of En Dahes and one Em Dash"?
    – doncherry
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 17:49
  • @donchery: Easier than the mixed en- and em-dash suggestion
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


Most web browsers do not, in fact, render HTML typographic entities in the <title> tag. Thus something like

<title>Foo &ndash; bar baz</title>

would show up in the browser as, literally:

Foo &ndash; bar baz

That's why we avoid HTML entity characters in titles for the most part.

  • Can the web browsers StackExchange supports deal with Unicode characters in the <title> tag?
    – doncherry
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 11:34
  • possibly, but it feels a bit hacky versus the proper HTML entity in the HTML Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 11:41
  • So, does this mean status-declined?
    – doncherry
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 19:25
  • But you are implying that the title properly has an en-dash surrounded by spaces (or without spaces) instead of a hyphen. Could we get official word on the whether there are spaces around or not? This is relevant for How do I properly cite TeX.SE for its help in typesetting?. Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 20:08
  • 8
    Unicode characters aren't "proper HTML"?
    – JeffE
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 5:43
  • 3
    This is not correct, HTML entities work fine inside the title element. What doesn't work is document.title = "&mdash;"; from JavaScript — use the literal Unicode character instead or use \u2014 to encode the character. Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 9:52
  • 4
    I just tried it out and it seems to work fine in Firefox and Chromium. Why can't we have proper dashes on a site for typography? HTML entities appears hackycompared to unicode to me, btw. Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 15:13

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