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, and 2016.

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

Replacing Text and Capitalizing a Letter in One Step

The Find and Replace capabilities of Word are very powerful. You can even use them to do some complex and specific ...

Discover More

Understanding Column Widths

Ever wonder why column widths are expressed in characters? The answer is rooted in history, as discussed in this tip.

Discover More

Pulling Headers and Footers from Other Files

You may have some standard headers and footers you want to make available in your document templates. This tip describes ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Using the Copy or Move Text Keys

Most people use the Clipboard to copy and move text in Word. Before the Clipboard, Word used F2 to move text and Shift+F2 ...

Discover More

Inserting Dashes between Letters in Words

Sometimes typing isn't straight typing. Sometimes you need to perform special tasks, such as putting dashes between ...

Discover More

What Line Am I On?

At the bottom of your document, on the status bar, Word allows you to include an indicator of the line on which your ...

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 seven more than 3?

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


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.