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En dash Em dash Horizontal bar Figure dash

The dash is a punctuation mark that is similar in appearance to the hyphen and minus sign but differs from these symbols in length and, in some fonts, height above the baseline. The most common versions of the dash are the en dash , longer than the hyphen; the em dash , longer than the en dash; and the horizontal bar , whose length varies across typefaces but tends to be between those of the en and em dashes.[lower-alpha 1]

Historically, the names of en dash and em dash came from the width of an uppercase N and uppercase M, respectively, in commonly used fonts.

Types of dash

Usage varies both within English and in other languages, but the usual convention in printed English text is as follows:

  • An em dash or a spaced en dash can be used to mark a break in a sentence, and a pair can be used to set off parenthetical statements.

    Glitter, felt, yarn, and buttons—his kitchen looked as if a clown had exploded.
    A flock of sparrows – some of them juveniles – alighted and sang.

  • The en dash but not the em dash indicates spans or differentiation, where it may be considered to replace "and" or "to":[1]

    The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was fought in western Pennsylvania and along the present US–Canada border (Edwards, pp. 81–101).

  • The em dash or the horizontal bar, but not the en dash, is used to set off the sources of quotes:

    Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.

  • The horizontal bar or the em dash, but not the en dash, introduces quoted text at line start.[lower-alpha 2]

Common dashes and their Unicode code-points

There are several forms of dash, of which the most common are:

glyph Unicode code point[lower-alpha 3] Unicode name HTML character entity reference HTML/XML numeric character references TeX Alt code (Windows) macOS key combination Compose key vim digraph Microsoft Word key combination GTK+ apps (e.g. LibreOffice on Xorg)
figure dash U+2012 figure dash ‒
Ctrl+⇧ Shiftu2012
en dash U+2013 en dash – –
-- Alt+0150[lower-alpha 4] ⌥ Opt+- Compose--. Ctrl+K-N Ctrl+Num - Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2013
em dash U+2014 em dash — —
--- Alt+0151[lower-alpha 4] ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+- Compose--- Ctrl+K-M Ctrl+Alt+Num - Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2014
horizontal bar U+2015 horizontal bar ― ―
Ctrl+K-3 Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2015
swung dash U+2053 swung dash ⁓
$\sim$ Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2053

Less common are the two-em dash (⸺) and three-em dash (⸻), both added to Unicode with version 6.1 as U+2E3A and U+2E3B.

Figure dash

The figure dash has the same width as a numerical digit; most fonts have digits of equal width. It is used within numbers (e.g., the phone number 555‒0199), especially in columns, for maintaining alignment. Its meaning is the same as a hyphen, as represented by hyphen-minus. In contrast, the en dash is generally used for a range of values.[2] The minus sign (−) glyph is generally set a little higher.

When the figure dash is unavailable, a hyphen-minus is often used instead. In Unicode, the figure dash is U+2012 (decimal 8210). HTML provides no character entity for it; it can be represented by the numeric character reference ‒ or ‒.

In TeX, the standard fonts have no figure dash; however, the digits normally all have the same width as the en dash, so an en dash can be substituted. In XeLaTeX, one can use \char"2012.[3] The Linux Libertine font also has the figure dash glyph.

En dash

The en dash, en rule, or nut dash[4] is traditionally half the width of an em dash.[5][6] In modern fonts, the length of the en dash is not standardized, and the en dash is often more than half the width of the em dash.[7] The widths of en and em dashes have also been specified as being equal to those of the upper-case letters N and M, respectively,[8][9] and at other times to the widths of the lower-case letters.[7][10]


The three main uses of the en dash are to connect symmetric items, such as the two ends of a range or two competitors or alternatives, as a substitute for a hyphen in a compound when one of the connected items is more complex than a single word, and as an interruptor at sentence level, substituting for a pair of commas, parentheses, or to indicate a rhetorical pause. It is sometimes held that, when used as an interruptor, the en dash should be "open" – spaced on both sides – in contrast to the em dash, which is closed.

Ranges of values

The en dash is commonly used to indicate a closed range of values – a range with clearly defined and finite upper and lower boundaries – roughly signifying what might otherwise be communicated by the word "through".[11] This may include ranges such as those between dates, times, or numbers.[12][13][14][15] Various style guides restrict this range indication style to only parenthetical or tabular matter, requiring "to" or "through" in running text. Preference for hyphen vs. en dash in ranges varies. For example, the APA style (named after the American Psychological Association) uses an en dash in ranges, but the AMA style (named after the American Medical Association) uses a hyphen:

En dash range style (e.g., APA[lower-alpha 5]) Hyphen range style (e.g., AMA[lower-alpha 5]) Running text spell-out
June–July 1967 June-July 1967 June and July 1967
1:15–2:15 p.m. 1:15-2:15 p.m. 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.
For ages 3–5 For ages 3-5 For ages 3 through 5
pp. 38–55 pp. 38-55 pages 38 to 55
President Jimmy Carter (1977–81) President Jimmy Carter (1977-81) President Jimmy Carter, in office from 1977 to 1981

Some style guides (including the Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI) and the AMA Manual of Style) recommend that, when a number range might be misconstrued as subtraction, the word "to" should be used instead of an en dash. For example, "a voltage of 50 V to 100 V" is preferable to using "a voltage of 50–100 V". Relatedly, in ranges that include negative numbers, "to" is used to avoid ambiguity or awkwardness (for example, "temperatures ranged from −18 °C to −34 °C"). It is also considered poor style (best avoided) to use the en dash in place of the words "to" or "and" in phrases that follow the forms from X to Y and between X and Y.[13][14]

Relationships and connections

The en dash is used to contrast values or illustrate a relationship between two things.[12][15] Examples of this usage include:

  • Australia beat American Samoa 31–0.
  • Radical–Unionist coalition
  • Boston–Hartford route
  • New York–London flight (however, it may be seen that New York to London flight is more appropriate because New York is a single name composed of two valid words; with a dash the phrase is ambiguous and could mean either Flight from New York to London or New flight from York to London)[15]
  • Mother–daughter relationship
  • The Supreme Court voted 5–4 to uphold the decision.

A distinction is often made between "simple" attributive compounds (written with a hyphen) and other subtypes (written with an en dash); at least one authority considers name pairs, where the paired elements carry equal weight, as in the Taft–Hartley Act to be "simple",[13] while others consider an en dash appropriate in instances such as these[16][17][18] to represent the parallel relationship, as in the McCain–Feingold bill or Bose–Einstein statistics. When an act of the U. S. Congress is named using the surnames of the senator and representative who sponsored it, the hyphen-minus is used in the short title; thus the short title of Public Law 111–203 is "The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act", with a hyphen-minus rather than an en dash between "Dodd" and "Frank".[19] However, there is a difference between something named for a parallel/coordinate relationship between two people (for example, Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein) and something named for a single person who had a compound surname, which may be written with a hyphen or a space but not an en dash (for example, the Lennard-Jones potential [hyphen] is named after one person (Mr. John Lennard-Jones), as are Bence Jones proteins and Hughlings Jackson syndrome). Copyeditors use dictionaries (general, medical, biographical, and geographical) to confirm the eponymity (and thus the styling) for specific terms, given that no one can know them all offhand.

Preference for an en dash instead of a hyphen in these coordinate/relationship/connection types of terms is a matter of style, not inherent orthographic "correctness"; both are equally "correct", and each is the preferred style in some style guides. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the AMA Manual of Style, and Dorland's medical reference works use hyphens, not en dashes, in coordinate terms (such as "blood-brain barrier"), in eponyms (such as "Cheyne-Stokes respiration", "Kaplan-Meier method"), and so on.

Attributive compounds

In English, the en dash is usually used instead of a hyphen in compound (phrasal) attributives in which one or both elements is itself a compound, especially when the compound element is an open compound, meaning it is not itself hyphenated. This manner of usage may include such examples as:[13][14][20][21]

  • The hospital–nursing home connection (the connection between the hospital and the nursing home, not a home connection between the hospital and nursing)
  • A nursing home–home care policy (a policy about the nursing home and home care)
  • Pre–Civil War era
  • Pulitzer Prize–winning novel
  • The non–San Francisco part of the world
  • The post–World War II era
    • (Compare post-war era, which, if not fully compounded (postwar), takes a hyphen, not an en dash. The difference is that war is not an open compound whereas World War II is.)
  • Trans–New Guinea languages
  • The ex–prime minister
  • a long–focal length camera
  • water ice–based bedrock
  • The pro-conscription–anti-conscription debate
  • Public-school–private-school rivalries

The disambiguating value of the en dash in these patterns was illustrated by Strunk and White in The Elements of Style with the following example: When Chattanooga News and Chattanooga Free Press merged, the joint company was inaptly named Chattanooga News-Free Press (using a hyphen), which could be interpreted as meaning that their newspapers were news-free.[22]

An exception to the use of en dashes is usually made when prefixing an already-hyphenated compound; an en dash is generally avoided as a distraction in this case. Examples of this include:[22]

An en dash can be retained to avoid ambiguity, but whether any ambiguity is plausible is a judgment call. AMA style retains the en dashes in the following examples:[23]

  • non–self-governing
  • non–English-language journals
  • non–group-specific blood
  • non–Q-wave myocardial infarction
  • non–brain-injured subjects

Differing recommendations

As discussed above, the en dash is sometimes recommended instead of a hyphen in compound adjectives where neither part of the adjective modifies the other—that is, when each modifies the noun, as in love–hate relationship.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), however, limits the use of the en dash to two main purposes:

  • First, use it to indicate ranges of time, money, or other amounts, or in certain other cases where it replaces the word "to".
  • Second, use it in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of the elements of the adjective is an open compound, or when two or more of its elements are compounds, open or hyphenated.[24]

That is, the CMOS favors hyphens in instances where some other guides suggest en dashes, the 16th edition explaining that "Chicago's sense of the en dash does not extend to between", to rule out its use in "US–Canadian relations".[25]

In these two uses, en dashes normally do not have spaces around them. Some make an exception when they believe avoiding spaces may cause confusion or look odd. For example, compare "12 June – 3 July" with "12 June–3 July".[26] However, other authorities disagree and state there should be no space between an en dash and the adjacent text. These authorities would not include a space in the following examples: "11:00 a.m.⁠–⁠1:00 p.m."[27] and "July 9–August 17".[28][29]

Parenthetic and other uses at the sentence level

Like em dashes, en dashes can be used instead of colons or pairs of commas that mark off a nested clause or phrase. They can also be used around parenthetical expressions – such as this one – in place of the em dashes preferred by some publishers,[30] particularly where short columns are used, since em dashes can look awkward at the end of a line. In these situations, en dashes must have a single space on each side.

Itemization mark

Either the en dash or the em dash may be used as a bullet at the start of each item in a bulleted list. (This is a matter of graphic design rather than orthography.)



In most uses of en dashes, such as when used in indicating ranges, they are closed up to the joined words. It is only when en dashes take the role of em dashes – for example, in setting off parenthetical statements such as this one – that they take spaces around them.[31][full citation needed] For more on the choice of em versus en in this context, see En dash versus em dash.

Encoding and substitution

When an en dash is unavailable in a particular character encoding environment—as in the ASCII character set—there are some conventional substitutions. Often two hyphens are the substitute.

In Unicode, the en dash is U+2013 (decimal 8211). In HTML, one may use the numeric forms – or –; there is also the HTML entity –.

The en dash is sometimes used as a substitute for the minus sign, when the minus sign character is not available since the en dash is usually the same width as a plus sign. For example, the original 8-bit Macintosh Character Set had an en dash, useful for the minus sign, years before Unicode with a dedicated minus sign was available. The hyphen-minus is usually too narrow to make a typographically acceptable minus sign. However, the en dash cannot be used for a minus sign in programming languages because the syntax usually requires a hyphen-minus.

Em dash

The em dash, em rule, or mutton dash[4] is longer than an en dash. The character is called an em dash because it is one em wide, a length that varies depending on the font size. One em is the same length as the font's height (which is typically measured in points). So in 9-point type, an em dash is nine points wide, while in 24-point type the em dash is 24 points wide. By comparison, the en dash, with its 1 en width, is in most fonts either a half-em wide[32] or the width of an upper-case "N".[33]


The em dash is used in several ways. Primarily in places where a set of parentheses or a colon might otherwise be used,[34][full citation needed] it can show an abrupt change in thought or be used where a full stop (period) is too strong and a comma too weak. Em dashes are also used to set off summaries or definitions.[35] Common uses and definitions are cited below with examples.

Colon-like use

Simple equivalence (or near-equivalence) of colon and em dash
  • Three alkali metals are the usual substituents: sodium, potassium, and lithium.
  • Three alkali metals are the usual substituents—sodium, potassium, and lithium.
Inversion of the function of a colon
  • These are the colors of the flag: red, white, and blue.
  • Red, white, and blue—these are the colors of the flag.

Parenthesis-like use

Simple equivalence (or near-equivalence) of paired parenthetical marks
  • Compare parentheses with em dashes:
    • Three alkali metals (sodium, potassium, and lithium) are the usual substituents.
    • Three alkali metals—sodium, potassium, and lithium—are the usual substituents.
  • Compare commas, em dashes and parentheses (respectively) when no internal commas intervene:
    • The food, which was delicious, reminded me of home.
    • The food—which was delicious—reminded me of home.
    • The food (which was delicious) reminded me of home.
Subtle differences in punctuation

It may indicate an interpolation stronger than that demarcated by parentheses, as in the following from Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine (the degree of difference is subjective).

  • "At that age I once stabbed my best friend, Fred, with a pair of pinking shears in the base of the neck, enraged because he had been given the comprehensive sixty-four-crayon Crayola box—including the gold and silver crayons—and would not let me look closely at the box to see how Crayola had stabilized the built-in crayon sharpener under the tiers of crayons."

Interruption of a speaker

Interruption by someone else

In this use, it is sometimes doubled:

  • "But I'm trying to explain that I—"
    "I'm aware of your mitigating circumstances, but your negative attitude was excessive."

In a related use, it may visually indicate the shift between speakers when they overlap in speech. For example, the em dash is used this way in Joseph Heller's Catch-22:

  • He was Cain, Ulysses, the Flying Dutchman; he was Lot in Sodom, Deirdre of the Sorrows, Sweeney in the nightingales among trees. He was the miracle ingredient Z-147. He was—
    "Crazy!" Clevinger interrupted, shrieking. "That's what you are! Crazy!"
    "—immense. I'm a real, slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger. I'm a bona fide supraman."
Either an ellipsis or an em dash can indicate aposiopesis, the rhetorical device by which a sentence is stopped short not because of interruption, but because the speaker is too emotional or pensive to continue. Because the ellipsis is the more common choice, an em dash for this purpose may be ambiguous in expository text, as many readers would assume interruption, although it may be used to indicate great emotion in dramatic monologue.
  • Long pause:
    • In Early Modern English texts and afterward, em dashes have been used to add long pauses (as noted by Joseph Robertson's 1785 An Essay On Punctuation):

Lord Cardinal! if thou think'st on heaven's bliss,
Hold up thy hand, make signal of that hope.—
He dies, and makes no sign!


Quotation mark-like use

This is a quotation dash. It may be distinct from an em dash in its coding (see Horizontal bar). It may be used to indicate turns in a dialog, in which case each dash starts a paragraph.[37] It replaces other quotation marks and was preferred by authors such as James Joyce:[38]

―O saints above! miss Douce said, sighed above her jumping rose. I wished I hadn't laughed so much. I feel all wet.
―O, miss Douce! miss Kennedy protested. You horrid thing!
Attribution of quote source

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"


An em dash may be used to indicate omitted letters in a word redacted to an initial or single letter or to fillet a word, by leaving the start and end letters whilst replacing the middle letters with a dash or dashes (for the purposes of censorship or simply data anonymization). In this use, it is sometimes doubled.

  • It was alleged that D—— had been threatened with blackmail.

Three em dashes might be used to indicate a completely missing word.[39]

Itemization mark

Either the en dash or the em dash may be used as a bullet at the start of each item in a bulleted list, but a plain hyphen is more commonly used.


Three em dashes one after another can be used in a footnote, endnote, or another form of bibliographic entry to indicate repetition of the same author's name as that of the previous work,[39] which is similar to the use of

Typographic details

Spacing and substitution

According to most American sources (such as The Chicago Manual of Style) and some British sources (such as The Oxford Guide to Style), an em dash should always be set closed, meaning it should not be surrounded by spaces. But the practice in some parts of the English-speaking world, including the style recommended by The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage for printed newspapers and the AP Stylebook, sets it open, separating it from its surrounding words by using spaces or hair spaces (U+200A) when it is being used parenthetically.[40][41] The AP Stylebook rejects the use of the open em dash to set off introductory items in lists. However, the "space, en dash, space" sequence is the predominant style in German and French typography. (See En dash versus em dash below.)

In Canada, The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing, The Oxford Canadian A to Z of Grammar, Spelling & Punctuation: Guide to Canadian English Usage (2nd ed.), Editing Canadian English, and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary all specify that an em dash should be set closed when used between words, a word and numeral, or two numerals.

The Australian government's Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers (6th ed.), also specifies that em dashes inserted between words, a word and numeral, or two numerals, should be set closed. A section on the 2-em rule (⸺) also explains that the 2-em can be used to mark an abrupt break in direct or reported speech, but a space is used before the 2-em if a complete word is missing, while no space is used if part of a word exists before the sudden break. Two examples of this are as follows (properly typeset 2-em and 3-em dashes should appear as a single dash, but they may show on this page as several em dashes with spaces in between):

  • I distinctly heard him say, "Go away or I'll ——".
  • It was alleged that D—— had been threatened with blackmail.

Approximating the em dash with two or three hyphens

When an em dash is unavailable in a particular character encoding environment—as in the ASCII character set—it has usually been approximated as a double (--) or triple (---) hyphen-minus. The two-hyphen em dash proxy is perhaps more common, being a widespread convention in the typewriting era. (It is still described for hard copy manuscript preparation in the Chicago Manual of Style as of the 16th edition, although the manual conveys that typewritten manuscript and copyediting on paper are now dated practices). The three-hyphen em dash proxy was popular with various publishers because the sequence of one, two, or three hyphens could then correspond to the hyphen, en dash, and em dash, respectively.

Because early comic book letterers were not aware of the typographic convention of replacing a typewritten double hyphen with an em dash, the double hyphen became traditional in American comics. This practice has continued despite the development of computer lettering.[42][43]

En dash versus em dash

These comparisons of the hyphen (-), n, en dash (–), m, and em dash (—), in various 12-point fonts, illustrate the typical relationship between lengths ("- n – m —"). In some fonts, the en dash is not much longer than the hyphen, and in Lucida Grande, the en dash is actually shorter than the hyphen.

The en dash is wider than the hyphen but not as wide as the em dash. An em width is defined as the point size of the currently used font, since the M character is not always the width of the point size.[44] In running text, various dash conventions are employed: an em dash—like so—or a spaced em dash — like so — or a spaced en dash – like so – can be seen in contemporary publications.

Various style guides and national varieties of languages prescribe different guidance on dashes. Dashes have been cited as being treated differently in the US and the UK, with the former preferring the use of an em dash with no additional spacing and the latter preferring a spaced en dash.[30] As examples of the US style, The Chicago Manual of Style and The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association recommend unspaced em dashes. Style guides outside the US are more variable. For example, The Elements of Typographic Style by Canadian typographer Robert Bringhurst recommends the spaced en dash – like so – and argues that the length and visual magnitude of an em dash "belongs to the padded and corseted aesthetic of Victorian typography".[45] In the United Kingdom, the spaced en dash is the house style for certain major publishers, including the Penguin Group, the Cambridge University Press, and Routledge. However, this convention is not universal. The Oxford Guide to Style (2002, section 5.10.10) acknowledges that the spaced en dash is used by "other British publishers" but states that the Oxford University Press, like "most US publishers", uses the unspaced em dash.

The en dash – always with spaces in running text when, as discussed in this section, indicating a parenthesis or pause – and the spaced em dash both have a certain technical advantage over the unspaced em dash. Most typesetting and word processing expects word spacing to vary to support full justification. Alone among punctuation that marks pauses or logical relations in text, the unspaced em dash disables this for the words it falls between. This can cause uneven spacing in the text, but can be mitigated by the use of thin spaces, hair spaces, or even zero-width spaces on the sides of the em dash. This provides the appearance of an unspaced em dash, but allows the words and dashes to break between lines. The spaced em dash risks introducing excessive separation of words. In full justification, the adjacent spaces may be stretched, and the separation of words further exaggerated. En dashes may also be preferred to em dashes when text is set in narrow columns, such as in newspapers and similar publications, since the en dash is smaller. In such cases, its use is based purely on space considerations and is not necessarily related to other typographical concerns.

On the other hand, a spaced en dash may be ambiguous when it is also used for ranges, for example, in dates or between geographical locations with internal spaces.

Horizontal bar

The horizontal bar (U+2015 ), also known as a quotation dash, is used to introduce quoted text. This is the standard method of printing dialogue in some languages. The em dash is equally suitable if the quotation dash is unavailable or is contrary to the house style being used.

There is no support in the standard TeX fonts, but one can use \hbox{---}\kern-.5em--- instead, or simply an em dash.

Swung dash

The swung dash (U+2053 ) resembles a lengthened tilde and is used to separate alternatives or approximates. In dictionaries, it is frequently used to stand in for the term being defined. A dictionary entry providing an example for the term henceforth might employ the swung dash as follows:

henceforth (adv.) from this time forth; from now on; " she will be known as Mrs. Wales"

There are several similar, related characters:

  • U+007E ~ TILDE (see below in § Similar Unicode Characters)
  • U+02DC ˜ SMALL TILDE (see below in § Similar Unicode Characters)
  • U+223C TILDE OPERATOR, used in mathematics. Ends less curved than regular tilde. In TeX and LaTeX, this character can be expressed using the math mode command $\sim$.
  • U+301C WAVE DASH, used in East Asian typography for a variety of purposes, including Japanese punctuation.
  • U+FF5E FULLWIDTH TILDE is a compatibility character for a wide tilde used in East Asian typography.

Rendering dashes on computers

For insertion of dashes using their Unicode code points (U+2013 for en dash and U+2014 for em dash), see Unicode input.

Typewriters and early computers have traditionally had only a limited character set, often having no key that produces a dash. In consequence, it became common to substitute the nearest available punctuation mark or symbol. Em dashes are often represented in British usage by a single hyphen-minus surrounded by spaces, or in American usage by two hyphen-minuses surrounded by spaces.

Modern computer software typically has support for many more characters and is usually capable of rendering both the en and em dashes correctly—albeit sometimes with an inconvenient input method. Some software, though, may operate in a more limited mode. Some text editors, for example, were restricted to working with a single 8-bit (pre-Unicode) character encoding, and when unencodable characters are entered—for example by pasting from the clipboard—they were often blindly converted to question marks.[citation needed] Sometimes this happened to em and en dashes, even when the 8-bit encoding supported them or when an alternative representation using hyphen-minuses is an option.

Techniques for generating em and en dashes in various operating systems, word processors and markup languages are provided in the following table:

Program The em dash (—) can be produced by: The en dash (–) can be
produced by:
UNIX and GNU/Linux Pressing and releasing Compose then typing ---. Alternatively, pressing ⇧ Shift+Ctrl+U, then releasing and typing 2014 Pressing and releasing Compose then typing --.. Alternatively, pressing ⇧ Shift+Ctrl+U, then releasing and typing 2013 The latter key combination works in GTK+ applications, including outside UNIX and GNU/Linux.
macOS ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+- ⌥ Opt+- Works when using the Australian, British, Canadian, Finnish, French, German, Irish, Irish Extended, Italian, Pro Italian, Russian, US, US Extended, or Welsh keyboard layouts.[46]
iOS and Android Holding the - in the on-screen keyboard until a popup appears with choices, then sliding the finger or thumb upwards to the desired option, then releasing. In iOS, the em dash is the third option while the en dash is second. For Android, the em dash is first and the en dash third.
Microsoft Windows Enabling Num Lock, then holding down Alt and pressing 0151 on the numeric keypad.
On US keyboard layouts without a numeric pad, the combination Alt+Fn+MJIJ can be used.[47]
Enabling Num Lock, then holding down Alt and pressing 0150 on the numeric keypad.
On US keyboard layouts without a numeric pad, the combination Alt+Fn+MJIM can be used.[47]
A scripting language may also be used. If an AutoHotkey script is in effect containing the command  ^m:: —  , for example, Ctrl+M will produce an em dash. The command itself needs to contain the dash, but this can be copy/pasted from, e.g., this article.
Microsoft Word Typing Ctrl+Alt+-, using the hyphen on the number pad. On computers without a number pad, typing 002014 followed by Alt+X. Typing Ctrl+-, using the hyphen on the number pad. On computers without a number pad, typing 002013 followed by Alt+X. Microsoft Word's default Autocorrect will insert an em dash when two unspaced hyphens are entered between words (for example, "word--word" is converted to "word—word") and an en dash when one or two hyphens surrounded by spaces are entered (for example, "word - word" or "word -- word" is converted to "word–word"). However, Autocorrect may insert the em or en dash in a different font than that of the surrounding text.
Wordpad and LibreOffice (Calc, Writer, etc.) Typing 002014 followed by Alt+X. Typing 002013 followed by Alt+X. The initial 00 can be omitted if the preceding character is not in the range 0–9, a–f, or A–F.
HTML and Mozilla Thunderbird — – From the Insert option on the Thunderbird toolbar the user can select HTML to open a window into which these codes can be entered.
LaTeX \textemdash or --- \textendash or -- These options also work in TeX.[48]
Plan 9 Pressing and releasing Compose then typing EM Pressing and releasing Compose then typing EN

Similar characters and their Unicode code-points

Sample Repeated (5×) for clarity Unicode Name Remark
- ----- U+002D hyphen-minus The standard ASCII hyphen. Sometimes this is used in groups to indicate different types of dash.
In programming languages, it is the character usually used to denote operators like the subtraction or the negative sign.
_ _____ U+005F low line A spacing character usually showing a horizontal line below the baseline (i.e. a spacing underscore). It is commonly used within URLs and identifiers in programming languages, where a space-like separation between parts is desired but a real space is not appropriate. As usual for ASCII characters, this character shows a considerable range of glyphic variation; therefore, whether sequences of this character connect depends on the font used.
~ ~~~~~ U+007E tilde Used in programming languages (e.g. for the bitwise NOT operator in C and C++).
Its glyphic representation varies, therefore for punctuation in running text the use of more specific characters is preferred, see above.
U+00AD soft hyphen Used to indicate where a line may break, as in a compound word or between syllables.
¯ ¯¯¯¯¯ U+00AF macron A horizontal line positioned at cap height usually having the same length as U+005F _ LOW LINE. It is a spacing character, related to the diacritic mark "macron". A sequence of such characters is not expected to connect, unlike U+203E OVERLINE.
ˉ ˉˉˉˉˉ U+02C9 modifier letter macron A phonetic symbol (a line applied above the base letter).
ˍ ˍˍˍˍˍ U+02CD modifier letter low macron A phonetic symbol (a line applied below the base letter).
˗ ˗˗˗˗˗ U+02D7 modifier letter minus sign A variant of the minus sign used in phonetics to mark a retracted or backed articulation. It may show small end-serifs.
˜ ˜˜˜˜˜ U+02DC small tilde A spacing clone of tilde diacritic mark.
‐‐‐‐‐ U+2010 hyphen The character that can be used to unambiguously represent a hyphen.
‑‑‑‑‑ U+2011 non-breaking hyphen Also called "hard hyphen", denotes a hyphen after which no word wrapping may apply. This is the case where the hyphen is part of a trigraph or tetragraph denoting a specific sound (like in the Swiss placename "S-chanf"), or where specific orthographic rules prevent a line break (like in German compounds of single-letter abbreviations and full nouns, as "E-Mail").
‒‒‒‒‒ U+2012 figure dash Similar to an en dash, but with exactly the width of a digit in the chosen typeface. The vertical position may also be centered on the zero digit, and thus higher than the en dash and em dash, which are appropriate for use with lowercase text in a vertical position similar to the hyphen. The figure dash may therefore be preferred to the en dash for indicating a closed range of values.[49]
‾‾‾‾‾ U+203E overline A character similar to U+00AF ¯ MACRON, but a sequence of such characters usually connects.
⁃⁃⁃⁃⁃ U+2043 hyphen bullet A short horizontal line used as a list bullet.
⁻⁻⁻⁻⁻ U+207B superscript minus Usually is used together with superscripted numbers.
₋₋₋₋₋ U+208B subscript minus Usually is used together with subscripted numbers.
−−−−− U+2212 minus sign An arithmetic operation used in mathematics to represent subtraction or negative numbers. Its glyph is consistent with the glyph of the plus sign, and it is centred on the zero digit, unlike the ASCII hyphen-minus and U+2010 HYPHEN, that (especially the latter) are designed to match lowercase letters and are inconsistent with arithmetic operators.
∼∼∼∼∼ U+223C tilde operator Used in mathematics. Ends not curved as much regular tilde. In TeX and LaTeX, this character can be expressed using the math mode command $\sim$.
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ U+23AF horizontal line extension Miscellaneous Technical (Unicode block). Can be used in sequences to generate long connected horizontal lines.
⏤⏤⏤⏤⏤ U+23E4 straightness Miscellaneous Technical (Unicode block). Represents line straightness in technical context.
───── U+2500 box drawings light horizontal Box-drawing characters. Several similar characters from one Unicode block used to draw horizontal lines.
➖➖➖➖➖ U+2796 heavy minus sign Unicode symbols.
⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺ U+2E3A two-em dash Supplemental Punctuation.
⸻⸻⸻⸻⸻ U+2E3B three-em dash Supplemental Punctuation.
𐆑 𐆑𐆑𐆑𐆑𐆑 U+10191 roman uncia sign Uncia (unit). A symbol for an ancient Roman unit of length.

Similar characters used in specific writing systems

U+1806 MONGOLIAN TODO SOFT HYPHEN is a hyphen from the Mongolian Todo alphabet.
U+2E0F PARAGRAPHOS is an Ancient Greek textual symbol, usually displayed by a long low line.
U+2E17 DOUBLE OBLIQUE HYPHEN is used in ancient Near-Eastern linguistics.
U+2E1A HYPHEN WITH DIAERESIS is used mostly in German dictionaries and indicates umlaut of the stem vowel of a plural form.
U+2E40 DOUBLE HYPHEN is used in the transcription of old German manuscripts.
U+3161 HANGUL LETTER EU or U+1173 HANGUL JUNGSEONG EU are Hangul letters used in Korean to denote the sound [ɯ].
U+301C WAVE DASH and U+3030 WAVY DASH are wavy lines found in some East Asian character sets. Typographically, they have the width of one CJK character cell (fullwidth form), and follow the direction of the text, being horizontal for horizontal text, and vertical for columnar. They are used as dashes, and occasionally as emphatic variants of the katakana vowel extender mark.
U+30FC KATAKANA-HIRAGANA PROLONGED SOUND MARK, the Japanese chōonpu, is used in Japanese to indicate a long vowel.
U+4E00 CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-4E00, the Chinese character for "one", is used in various East Asian languages.
U+A4FE LISU PUNCTUATION COMMA looks like a sequence of a hyphen and a full stop.
U+FE31 PRESENTATION FORM FOR VERTICAL EM DASH is a compatibility character for a vertical em dash used in East Asian typography.
U+FE32 PRESENTATION FORM FOR VERTICAL EN DASH is a compatibility character for a vertical en dash used in East Asian typography.
U+FE58 SMALL EM DASH is a compatibility character for a small em dash used in East Asian typography.
U+FF5E FULLWIDTH TILDE is a compatibility character for a wide tilde used in East Asian typography.
U+FE63 SMALL HYPHEN-MINUS is a compatibility character for a small hyphen-minus used in East Asian typography.
U+FF0D FULLWIDTH HYPHEN-MINUS is a compatibility character for a wide hyphen-minus used in East Asian typography.

In other languages

In many languages, such as Polish, the em dash is used as an opening quotation mark. There is no matching closing quotation mark; typically a new paragraph will be started, introduced by a dash, for each turn in the dialog.

Corpus studies indicate that em dashes are more commonly used in Russian than in English.[50] In Russian, the em dash is used for the present copula (meaning "am"/"is"/"are"), which is unpronounced in spoken Russian.

In French, em or en dashes can be used as parentheses (brackets), but the use of a second dash as a closing parenthesis is optional. When a closing dash is not used, the sentence is ended with a period (full-stop) as usual. Dashes are, however, much less common than parentheses.

In Spanish, em dashes can be used to mark off parenthetical phrases. Unlike in English, the em dashes are spaced like brackets, i.e., there is a space between main sentence and dash, but not between parenthetical phrase and dash.[51]

"Llevaba la fidelidad a su maestro —un buen profesor— hasta extremos insospechados."[52]

See also


  1. ^ In Cambria and many other typefaces, the length of the horizontal bar is equal to three quarters of an em dash or one and a half times an en dash.
  2. ^ In the Unicode Standard, the horizontal bar is also called "quotation dash" (see General punctuation).
  3. ^ Characters in Unicode are referenced in prose via the "U+" notation. The hexadecimal number after the "U+" is the character's Unicode code point.
  4. ^ a b Windows character codes must be typed using the numeric keypad with Num Lock on, but see Notes in the section Rendering dashes on computers, above.
  5. ^ a b Other style differences (e.g., APA "p.m." and "pp." vs. AMA "PM" and "pp") are ignored for the purpose of this comparison.


  1. ^ "5 Punctuation: 5.2 Dashes". MHRA Style Guide: A Handbook for Authors, Editors, and Writers of Theses (2nd ed.). Modern Humanities Research Association (London). {{cite book}}: |access-date= requires |url= (help); Unknown parameter |chapterurl= ignored (help)
  2. ^ Korpela, Jukka (2006). Unicode Explained. O'Reilly Media. p. 433. ISBN 9780596101213. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  3. ^ Figure dash in XeLaTeX
  4. ^ a b Stewart, A. A. (1919). Typesetting: A Primer of Information About Working at the Case, Justifying, Spacing, Correcting, Making-up, and Other Operations Employed in Setting Type by Hand. Typographic Technical Series for Apprentices. Vol. Part II, No. 16. Chicago: Committee on Education, United Typothetae of America. p. 91.
  5. ^ Southward, John (1884). Practical printing: a handbook of the art of typography (2nd ed.). J.M. Powell & Son. p. 7.
  6. ^ Spivak, Michael (1980). The joy of TEX: a gourmet guide to typesetting with the AMS-TEX macro package (2nd ed.). AMS Bookstore. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8218-2997-4.
  7. ^ a b Strizver, Ilene (2010). Type Rules: The Designer's Guide to Professional Typography (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-470-54251-4.
  8. ^ Susan E. L. Lake & Karen Bean (2007). Digital Multimedia: The Business of Technology (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-538-44527-6.
  9. ^ French, Nigel (2006). InDesign type: professional typography with Adobe InDesign CS2. Adobe Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-321-38544-4.
  10. ^ Edward D. Johnson (1991). The handbook of good English. Simon & Schuster. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-671-70797-2.
  11. ^ Lamb, David. "Hyphens, En Dashes, and Em Dashes: Correct Usage". Academic Writing Tutor. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  12. ^ a b Griffith, Benjamin W; et al. (2004). Pocket Guide to Correct Grammar. Barron's Pocket Guides. Woodbury, NY: Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 0-7641-2690-3.
  13. ^ a b c d Judd, Karen (2001). Copyediting: A Practical Guide. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications. ISBN 1-56052-608-4.
  14. ^ a b c Loberger, Gordon; Welsh, Kate Shoup (2001). Webster's new world English grammar handbook. New York, NY: Hungry Minds. ISBN 0-7645-6488-9.
  15. ^ a b c Ives, George Burnham (1921). Text, type and style: A compendium of Atlantic usage. Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 125. The en-dash ... may stand for the word "and" or "to" in such phrases as "the Radical–Unionist Coalition", "the Boston–Hartford Air Line"; "the period of Republican supremacy, 1860–84"; "pp. 224–30".
  16. ^ Garner, Bryan A. (2003). Garner's Modern American Usage (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 657.
  17. ^ Garner, Bryan A. (2001). Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises. Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing (illustrated, reprinted ed.). University of Chicago Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-226-28418-7 – via Google Books. Use an en-dash as an equivalent of to (as when showing a span of pages), to express tension or difference, or to denote a pairing in which the elements carry equal weight.
  18. ^ Dupré, Lynn (1998). Bugs in Writing (Revised ed.). Addison Wesley Longman. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-201-37921-1 – via Google Books. use en dashes when you have an equal-weighted pair serving as an adjective, such as love–hate relationship.
  19. ^ "Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" (PDF). U.S. Government Publishing Office. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  20. ^ The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2005. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-618-60499-9.
  21. ^ Lutz, Gary; Stevenson, Diane (2005). The Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference. Writer's Digest Books. p. 296. ISBN 978-1-58297-335-7 – via Google Books.
  22. ^ a b Einsohn, Amy (2000). The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, with Exercises and Answer Keys. University of California Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-0-520-21834-5.
  23. ^ Iverson, Cheryl; et al., eds. (2007), "8.3.1 Hyphen", AMA Manual of Style (10th ed.), American Medical Association / Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-517633-9
  24. ^ The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.). University of Chicago Press. 2003. pp. 261–265. ISBN 0-226-10403-6.
  25. ^ The Chicago Manual of Style (16th [online] ed.). University of Chicago Press. 2010. § 6.80.
  26. ^ Shaw, Harry (1986). Errors in English and Ways to Correct Them. New York: Harper & Row. p. 185. ISBN 0-06-097047-2.
  27. ^ The Punctuation Guide, "En dash".
  28. ^ Nancy Tuten, "Hyphens, En Dashes, and Em Dashes: When to Use Them and How to Type Them", Get It Write, 26 June 2019.
  29. ^ Mignon Fogarty (2008). Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Holt Paperbacks. p. 97. ISBN 9781429977494.
  30. ^ a b Will, Hill (2010). The Complete Typographer: A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers Working With Type (3rd ed.). Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-28894-8.
  31. ^ "4.11.1 En rule", New Hart's Rules: The Oxford Style Guide, Oxford University Press
  32. ^ Ritter, Robert M. (2002). The Oxford Guide to Style. Oxford University Press. p. 140. ISBN 0-19-869175-0. The en rule is, as its name indicates, an en in length, which makes it longer than a hyphen and half the length of an em rule.
  33. ^ Gomez-Palacio, Bryony; Vit, Armin (2009). Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design. Rockport. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-59253-447-0 – via Internet Archive.
  34. ^ "4.11.2 Em rule", New Hart's Rules: The Oxford Style Guide, Oxford University Press
  35. ^ Woods, Geraldine (2005). Webster's New World Punctuation: Simplified and Applied. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-7645-9916-3 – via Google Books.
  36. ^ "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope". IMDb. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  37. ^ The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.). Chicago University Press. § 6.88, p. 335.
  38. ^ Joyce, James (1922). Ulysses. London: The Bodley Head. p. 335, lines 7–11.
  39. ^ a b Sheerin, Peter K (19 October 2001). "The Trouble With EM 'n EN (and Other Shady Characters)". A List Apart (in English). Retrieved 4 June 2018. Three adjacent em dashes (a 3-em dash) are used to substitute for the author's name when a repeated series of works are presented in a bibliography, as well as to indicate an entire missing word in the text. Note that his Pete's Guide website has an updated version: Version 2.0—May 27, 2002.
  40. ^ Yin, Karen (31 May 2016). "Em Dashes and Ellipses: Closed or Spaced Out?". AP vs. Chicago. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  41. ^ Yagoda, Ben. "Mad Dash". The New York Times. 22 October 2012. Accessed 31 May 2016.
  42. ^ Piekos, Nate. "Comic Book Grammar & Tradition". Archived from the original on 21 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  43. ^ Klein, Todd (23 September 2008). "Punctuating Comics: Dots and Dashes". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  44. ^ "A glossary of typographic terms". Adobe. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
  45. ^ Bringhurst, Robert (2004). The elements of typographic style (third ed.). Hartley & Marks, Publishers. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-88179-206-5.
  46. ^ "Typing Special Characters on a Macintosh Keyboard". Washington State University. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  47. ^ a b LibreOffice Documentation Team (31 July 2018). LibreOffice 6.0 Writer Guide. p. 52. ISBN 9781921320538.
  48. ^ Baker, GG, "Dash", Characters (reference), CA: SFI
  49. ^ Figure dash on Technical Authoring. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  50. ^ Claudia V. Angelelli; Holly E. Jacobson (2009). Testing and assessment in translation and interpreting studies: a call for dialogue between research and practice. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 174. ISBN 978-90-272-3190-1.
  51. ^ "Raya". In: Diccionario panhispánico de dudas. Madrid: Real Academia Española, 2005.
  52. ^ "Uso de la raya (O guión largo)".

External links