The emission from open cavities with non-integrable features remains a challenging problem of practical as well as fundamental relevance. Square-shaped dielectric microcavities provide a favorable case study with generic implications for other polygonal resonators. We report on a joint experimental and theoretical study of square-shaped organic microlasers exhibiting a far-field emission that is strongly concentrated in the directions parallel to the side walls of the cavity. A semiclassical model for the far-field distributions is developed that is in agreement with even fine features of the experimental findings. Comparison of the model calculations with the experimental data allows the precise identification of the lasing modes and their emission mechanisms, providing strong support for a physically intuitive ray-dynamical interpretation. Special attention is paid to the role of diffraction and the finite side length.