Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Inserting Different Dashes.

Inserting Different Dashes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 17, 2018)

8

Typographers use different dashes for different purposes. The only difference between the dashes is their width. For instance, you get one type of dash when you press on the minus key-it is a dash that is very narrow. A longer dash is called an en dash, because it is the same width as a lowercase n. An en-dash is typically used to denote ranges of numbers. Wider still is the em-dash, which is just as wide as a lowercase m. The em-dash is typically used in sentences, as a dash between clauses. To insert an en-dash in your document, hold down the Alt key and type 0150 on the numeric keypad; an em-dash is produced by holding down the Alt key and typing 0151.

Another way to insert the dashes is to use the minus key on the numeric keypad. If you press Ctrl+- (remember, on the numeric keypad), then Word inserts an en-dash. The wider em-dash is inserted by using Ctrl+Alt+-.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9319) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Inserting Different Dashes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Setting a Default Table Border Width

When you insert a table into your document, it uses a standard-weight line around each cell in the table. If you want to ...

Discover More

Synchronized Workbook and Worksheet Names

When you work on older workbooks in Excel, you may notice that the name of the worksheet tab and the workbook itself are ...

Discover More

Opening a Workbook with Two Windows

If you open a workbook and notice that Excel displays two windows for it, this has to do with how the workbook was saved. ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Permanently Turning Off the Tracking of Formatting Changes

The Track Changes tool can be a great asset when you are working on a document with others. It can also be a hassle if ...

Discover More

Jumping to a Relative Page

When you are navigating around your document, you may find it helpful to jump a certain number of pages either toward the ...

Discover More

Multiple Document Users

If you have a group of people working on a single document, you may wonder what tools are available in Word to facilitate ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three minus 2?

2019-05-16 20:23:48

Heidi Thaens

Years ago someone taught me this, and I forgot it until today, when I was confronted by a horde of ranges with hyphens in between. And this is ridiculously easy. In the search box, put a hyphen in the "search" space. Then put this ^= in the replace space, and when you hit "replace," you'll get an en dash. The same procedure will give you an em dash if you put ^+ in the replace box. I AM SO HAPPY THAT I WAS ABLE TO REMEMBER THIS!

-- Heidi


2018-10-19 10:56:51

Malcolm Patterson

Andrew, the no-width non-breaking space works as you suggested, Thanks! (It can also be inserted as Unicode: type 200D then Alt+X.)


2018-10-19 09:39:47

Andrew

Malcom, try inserting a "No-Width Non Break" where the unwanted break occurs (available in from the Special Characters tab of the Symbol dialog).


2018-10-18 12:38:02

Malcolm Patterson

Is there a non-breaking en-dash? It would be useful to avoid splitting a range across a line break, and easy enough to insert a normal en-dash when the result is a margin that's too ragged (or fully justified text that's too widely spaced).


2018-10-17 09:42:20

Bruce

I found this tip very interesting. I have noticed that if I type a dash in a sentence sometimes word replaces it with a longer dash if text follows the dash. Is word automatically changing to the em-dash?
Bruce


2018-10-17 09:18:15

Lew Kaye-Skinner

An easier way to insert en- and em-dashes is simply to press the hyphen key twice for en or three times for em.


2018-06-18 09:44:21

Andrew

Set up the term "Auto-Correct" in your word document with the non-breaking hyphen (using Ctrl-Shift-_ or the insert symbol menu). Select the term, then, while the term is still selected, go to File->Options->Proofing and click on AutoCorrect Options. Make sure you're on the AutoCorrect tab. Your selected text should be shown in the replace "with" box with the nonbreaking hyphen shown as an asterisk (*). Make sure "Replace text as you type" is selected and beneath it select the "Formatted text" radio button. This should change the asterisk to a hyphen. In the "Replace" box add the "ac" (or other appropriate text). Click the "add" button (or "replace" if it was already defined), and then test it out.


2018-06-16 11:19:06

Phil Reinemann

How can one enter a non-breaking dash into auto-correct? Example, assume "Auto-Correct" is the company name and "A-C" is an acceptable corporate abbreviation. My auto-correction changes 'ac' to A-C (AC not allowed in the ID standard) but at the end of the line it will break into "A-" and "C" on the next line. "A-C" must not break. Also, the company name "Auto-Correct" must not break between lines (as it appears to have done after I entered this paragraph on the web page - I don't know how it will appear when this comment is submitted).

The same may apply for family names too, like "Smith-Jones".

This is the image of what I typed (above) before submitting: (see Figure 1 below)


Figure 1. Image of broken hyphen prior to submission




This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.