We all know the standard hyphen symbol and know what it’s named. It is used primarily to hyphenate words (hence its name) and frequently used in math as the minus sign-). But what about those dashes that seem larger than a hyphen? What do you use them for, and how do you type them? This quick little guide should help you out.

What’s An Em dash? (—)

But what’s an em dash? “em” is a unit of measurement roughly equal to the height of the font being used in printing or showing characters on a screen. If the type-size you are using is 12px, then the length of your em dash is 12px.

The em dash is the one that we relate to the others as a long dash. Stylistically it is mostly used to replace commas, colons, and parentheses. That implies an expression like this — though an odd example — appears somewhat more imaginative.

When an Em Dash or En Dash can be used?

The Style Online Chicago Manual offers a good guide for determining when to use an em dash or an en dash.

The em dash is used to incorporate a new idea into a phrase — the same as this case.

How to type an em dash on MAC?

The question asked by many people is how to type an em dash?

  • Control unique characters from menu Cut.
  • Open software to edit phrases, such as TextEdit. Tap the menu Change, and pick Emoji & Symbols. Alternatively, use the Shift-Command-Space keyboard shortcut to open the Panel of Special Characters.
  • Check or navigate across the screens by name icon.
  • Scroll to the top of the Special Characters panel and type in the search field the name of the symbol you want in this case em dash.

How to type an em dash on Windows:

Windows appears to be a bit less welcoming to dash admirers. Still, since the introduction of its emoji keyboard, things have improved better — it’s now got a straightforward workaround for em and en-dashes built into it.

  • To enter the emoji keys, click both the Win key and the dot (.) simultaneously.
  • Navigate to the Symbols tab at the top of the screen (the omega icon).

Inserts an em-dash into Word:

  • Mac: click “option+shift+hyphen key” Word can transform it into an em-dash automatically. On certain Mac keyboards, the alternative key is labeled “alt.”
  • For desktop PC: on the numeric keypad press “alt+ctrl+minus” (the number section at the far right of your keyboard). Unless you click the hyphen-key on the keyboard’s typewriter portion the trick won’t work.
  • For PC-laptop: since laptops do not have numeric keypads that are easily accessible, the insertion of em-dash is different but, luckily, very simple. Just write two hyphens with no like-this space preceding or following. Term adds an em-dash immediately instead of the two hyphens like — this.

When it comes to dashes, you don’t have to be that much of a stickler – unless you’re specifically tied to a writing style like APA. Many people are really understanding; particularly though they don’t know that you’re using a hyphen for anything longer. That said, you should stay away from any form of Dash that requires a hyphen. Not only is it grammatically incorrect, so you’d like to re-edit what you’ve posted anyway. The usage of an em dash or en dash in a complex phrase seems just like silly.

 

How to remove an em dash:

When you have an Em dash or En dash in your Word document, and wish to delete it, do one of them.

  • Use your mouse to highlight the Em dash, or En dash, then press the Delete key.
  • After Em dash or En dash, position the text cursor, then click the Backspace key.
  • If you want a normal hyphen to replace the Em dash or En dash, type the hyphen after deleting the Em or En dash.
  • You can type either an em dash or an en dash using the following Alt-codes if you are using a PC with a numerical keypad: Em dash: Alt+0151 (—)

Unfortunately, most Computer notebooks, except with an external (USB) keyboard fitted with a numerical keypad, do not enable you to use numerical Alt-codes.

 

BOTTOM-LINE:

Now that you know how to type a dash, you might be slightly worried you will become an em dash fiend.

For the majority of us, it occurs. Em dashes make writing the way we talk much better — if you’re writing a blog post, a conversation regarding your life, or a nonfiction novel.

And while your editor may recommend removing some of them (especially if you use one in every paragraph — no judgment here), it is ultimately your choice to make whether you keep those em dashes or replace them with commas or parentheses.

Yet if you learn the difference between the hyphen, the en dash and the em dash, you are doing a major favor with your all-star publisher.

 

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