Have you ever heard of an en-dash or an em-dash before?
Didn’t think so…
Don’t worry it’s simple and I’m going to teach you a few tricks so you can have perfect hyphenation in your work and impress those writer snobs.
Lets start with a little history. The en-dash is the width of an uppercase ‘N’ metal block letter when individual characters were arranged to create the imprint years ago. Thus the ‘N’ dash name. The em-dash is the same principal with it being the width of an uppercase ‘M’.
Now, when do you use a hyphen, en-dash or em-dash you ask? What’s the difference?
A HYPHEN IS USED TO:
- connect compound words like, ‘mid-September’
- show when a word is broken and wraps to another line
- connect grouped numbers like a phone number, ‘647-893-2078’
AN EN-DASH IS USED TO:
- indicate a range of numbers like one date to another date, ‘1952–2012’
- connects words that describe a range such as, ‘April–September 2013’
AN EM-DASH IS USED TO:
- separate a statement, thought or idea from the main sentence in place of a comma like, “Going to the farmers market—rather than the local grocery store—is always a better option.”
- show when content has been interrupted such as, “I was going to tell him to—“Please tell me you said it politely?”
How do I insert an en-dash and em-dash into my Microsoft Word documents?
Start with your cursor where you want the dash to appear.
- For an en-dash press “Alt” + “Hyphen Key” in your numbers panel.
- For an em-dash press “Alt” + “Shift” + “Hyphen Key”.
And voila! Now you know. So the trick is to practice and teach others the way of the dashes. I wish you luck!