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Consider the part in bold:

Show the elected official why they’re correct on an issue—they don’t necessarily know why they’re correct on an issue—and lay out a path to victory on the legislative front.

You might argue that this is bad because it looks like the sentence might terminate after the word "issue" as follows:

Show the elected official why they’re correct on an issue—they don’t necessarily know why they’re correct on an issue.

But then when you get to the word "issue" your eyes see "Oh, another dash...and now more text". So your eyes see "—and..." and see the remaining part of the sentence that continues right up to "front.". So maybe that's bad because it's like "Surprise! The sentence keeps going!".

And here's a similarly concerning sentence:

As for policy, most Americans tend to agree with Democrats—especially on economic issues—as long as the polling questions avoid loaded terms like “liberal” and “conservative”.

And the bold is potentially another case of potential ambiguity:

Younger Democrats have to start building better connections—either through the grassroots or through big donors—so that they can build name recognition.

Last edited by Andrew Van Wagner
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Hi, Andrew—It is OK to use an em dash at each end of a parenthetically inserted sentence. It is also OK to use an em dash at two ends of a prepositional phrase or other modifier to set it off dramatically, or to use one em dash to set off such a phrase at the end of a sentence. What I vehemently wish you wouldn't do with em-dashes is to use them instead of periods. Let a sentence come to an end. Then begin a new sentence. It's OK. It's really OK.

Last edited by David, Moderator

I have a freakish OCD need to "keep things moving" through gluing sentences together; it's funny because in personal correspondence (or in this sentence that I'm typing right now) I will use semicolons to achieve this, but in my writing I substitute em-dashes. I like to move things forward; semicolons arguably don't achieve that as well as em-dashes.

My effort to "glue" things causes me to look for "logical gravity" that will pull different sentences together; if sentences X and Y and Z appear in a sequence then I need to either "glue" X and Y or else "glue" Y and Z, so I have to make a judgment call about where the "logical gravity" is strongest.

But this particular question is about the issue of embedding full sentences. So I could write:

The dog was fun—dogs are great—but it was a lot of work.

So your eyes need to reach the end of the bold and THEN notice "Oh! The sentence could end at "great" but it actually keeps going!" maybe that's an issue regarding the "Surprise!" on that front.

Last edited by Andrew Van Wagner

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