In the following sentence, the speaker is quoting the title of a book, but stumbles on a word in the title.

"The Art of Liv -- Living."

The quotation marks and the inclusion of the partial word "Liv --" cannot be changed. Would it be necessary for "Liv --" to be enclosed in square brackets, i.e. [Liv --], to show that it is not part of the title?

  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it is not about writing as defined in the help center but, as OP has clarified in their comments to their previous question ("The sentence, or sentences, are from an audio transcription."), about conventions for the linguistic transcription of audio recordings. It should be asked on linguistics.stackexchange.com instead.
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 5 at 20:46
  • With respect, I looked at the linguistics.stackexchange.com page, and it does not seem an appropriate place to ask a question like the one I posted. I also looked at the information on the following page for this site: writing.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic. On that page, it says that questions about non-fiction writing, style, and punctuation, are welcome, and that site is for aspiring writers of all types. Is a person who is transcribing from an audio recording and has a question about punctuation, not be permitted to ask questions on this site?
    – Cedar
    Commented Apr 6 at 0:06
  • I gave you an answer that explains how this should be formatted in writing. If that answers your question, please accept it as the correct answer. If what you do is the linguistic transcription of audio recordings for oral speech analysis, then what you do isn't writing and other conventions apply. Do not confuse written language (as in a shopping list or a transcription of an audio recording) with writing (as in a novel, essay, speech, or movie script)!
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 6 at 6:53
  • As an example for the difference in conventions, in writing, today, we never use a double hyphen ("--"). In linguistic transcriptions a double hyphen is used for what is called speaker restart. Linguistic transcriptions do not use en-dashes or em-dashes, only hyphens. Linguistic transcriptions only use characters that could be found on a typewriter. Here is an example guideline: ling.upenn.edu/~wlabov/L560/Transcription_guidelines_FAAV.pdf
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 6 at 6:56
  • If I am misunderstanding what you do, maybe you could explain the context and purpose of your transcription. What are you writing and why do you need to transcribe an audio recording? If it is not linguistic analysis, your question has been answered by my answer below. If it is linguistic analysis, then you will not find a good answer on this site. You need to go to Linguistics.SE, the have questions about transcriptions: linguistics.stackexchange.com/search?q=speech+transcription
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 6 at 6:58

1 Answer 1


In writing (e.g. fiction), stuttering is signified by a hyphen:

"The art of li-living," she stuttered.

When a word is broken off followed by a longer pause, this is signified by an em-dash:

"The art of liv—, I mean, the art of loving," she corrected herself.

When a word trails off and is followed by a longer pause, this is signified by an ellipsis:

"The art of liv..." She looked away and took a deep breath. "Living."

So, depending on what you want to convey, you can use:

"The art of liv-living."   no pause, i.e. stuttering
"The art of liv—, living."   a shorter pause
"The art of liv— Living."   a longer pause
"The art of liv... Living.   trailing off and starting again

Note how the em-dash and the ellipsis end a sentence and the full word ("living") forms its own one-word clause, either separated by a comma or capitalized and forming its own sentence. Also note that in dialogue we conventionally do not capitalize words, as dialogue is the representation of spoken language and we cannot speak capital letters. And do not use two hyphens. That's only a stopgap solution when typewriting. Instead use an em-dash.

If what you do is a transcription of oral language for a linguistic analysis, other conventions apply. You should ask about them at linguistics.stackexchange.com.

  • I didn't realize that my question did not meet the criteria for this forum. My apologizes. Thank you for the information about the other forum.
    – Cedar
    Commented Apr 5 at 23:28

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