The Mystery of the En Dash

Before I worked in publishing, I didn’t know what the en dash was. It’s a dash the width of a capital letter N, and it’s used in place of a hyphen in open compounds. For example, we’d use one instead of a hyphen in the compound adjective “Pulitzer Prize–winning.” (I don’t think that’s visible here, but it’d be a slightly longer dash.) If you keep your eyes open, you’ll start to notice them in books and magazines.

And in the mock-up business card above. See how the line in “USA Triathlon–certified coach” is longer than the hyphens in my phone number?

What I’m wondering is this: does it make sense at first glance, or is it annoying? That is, does your eye think it’s an em dash (a full dash, the width of a capital letter M), which renders the meaning murky?

More generally, does this look good for a card? I welcome proposals of alternate layouts.

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