Shortcut for Em and En Spaces

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 16, 2018)

2

Joan comes from a typographical background, and she needs a quick way to type both em spaces and en spaces in a document. She wonders if Word already has shortcuts for these types of spaces.

Before getting into the actual shortcuts, you'll want to make sure you understand the terms being used in this tip. Some people find it difficult to differentiate between em dashes and em spaces, for instance. This tip is addressing, specifically, spaces, not dashes. The words "em" and "en" indicate the width of the space, with "em space" meaning a space the same width as a lowercase m character and "en space" meaning a space the same width as a lowercase n character.

If you pull up the Symbol dialog box and then display the Special Characters tab, you can see that Word doesn't provide a default keyboard shortcut for either em or en spaces. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Special Characters tab of the Symbol dialog box.

You may notice, however, that there is a Shortcut Key button in the dialog box. You can click the space you want (such as the Em Space) and then click the Shortcut Key button. Word displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.

Make sure the insertion point is in the Press New Shortcut Key box and then press the shortcut you want to use for this particular space. I like to use Alt+M for the em space and Alt+N for the en space. Neither of these are assigned to any other purpose, so they seem rather natural for these spaces.

If you prefer to add your special spaces to the Quick Access Toolbar, see the WordTip entitled Inserting Special Spaces.

There are other ways you can add em and en spaces to your document, relying solely on the keyboard. One way is to type either 2002 (for an en space) or 2003 (for an em space) and then immediately press Alt+X. The codes are converted to the desired spaces. Another method is to hold down the Alt key as you type 8194 (for an en space) or 8195 (for an em space).

If you actually want to know about shortcuts for em and en dashes (not spaces), check out the WordTip entitled Inserting Different Dashes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13539) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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. ...

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What is two less than 5?

2018-06-19 08:11:23

Allen

Ken: You are correct; those work for DASHES. This tip, though is about SPACES, not dashes.

-Allen


2018-06-18 23:53:01

Ken

How about Ctl+Alt+- (keypad minus sign) for em dash and Ctl+- (keypad minus again) for en dash? THese work in Word 2016


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