I’ve come across a few passages that are just too much fun to include as a normal example. I mean no offense to the authors of these sentences. But I believe these examples have left more than one person scratching his head.
Poor Mr. Chick!
Here’s an example from our very own graduate school in a guide explaning what to include in your doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis.
K. The Biography (PhD only-students doing a Master Thesis do not include)
In this instruction, using a hyphen instead of an em-dash causes the sentence to say something very different from what is intended. Incidentally, the example above about Mr. Chick correctly uses the double-hyphen (–) to indicate the em-dash. Especially there, considering the hyphens within the em-dash parenthetic. Further reading: my focus article on hyphen vs. dash.
Just to show how these principles apply outside of scientific writing, here is some text I recently recieved on an advertisement from a bank (can you parse this in one read?):
That’s not going to move a lot of homes…
More examples… (they may not be funny)