The Project Gutenberg FAQ - V-92

V.92. How should I treat dashes replacing letters?

If the dashes obviously represent individual letters, use the same number of hyphens. Otherwise, you can use a three-em-dash (see above: 6 or 4 hyphens) in such places.

A common convention when a character in a novel is using bad language, or when reference is given to a character whose full name is not being used, is to replace the letters with dashes. For example,

  "That D---l, Mr. C------s will regret his hasty actions!"

In this case, it is clear that "D---l" is meant to represent "Devil" and that there is a character whose name begins with "C" and ends in "s" whose name is not spelled out in full. Where the book makes it clear how many letters are represented by hyphens, just use that number of hyphens.

Where the number of letters omitted is not clear, you can decide how long you want to make your extended dash. Typographers often use the "three-em-dash" for this, so called because it is as wide as three capital Ms. Logically, since we represent an em-dash by two hyphens, we might represent a three-em-dash as six, but if you feel that six hyphens is too long, you can choose a shorter length, like four, but if you do, keep it consistent within your text:

  It was in the town of S----, walking on M---- Street, that
  Sowerby came upon Dr. T---- taking the morning air.

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