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Editorial Styleguide

em dash, en dash

There are two kinds of dashes—of different length and for different purposes—in addition to the hyphen:

The em dash (—) is named for the amount of space that a capital M occupied in a line of lead type set in the particular typeface. It is used for parenthetical remarks or abrupt changes of thought, epigraphs and datelines. Do not include spaces around the dash: Her research found that this is especially true for women―the vast majority of welfare recipients.

The en dash (–) is shorter than an em dash but longer than a hyphen. It is used for continuing or inclusive numbers or words. Do not include spaces around the dash: pages 7–10; Monday–Friday; University of Alabama–Birmingham.

Do not pair an en dash with the word “from”: 1968–72 or from 1968 to 1972 NOT from 1968–72).

An en dash also is used in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of the elements is an open compound: post–Civil War; Grawemeyer Award–winning author, Louisville–Jefferson County government.

FYI: On a PC, you can make an em dash or an en dash when working in Word by:

  • placing your cursor where the mark will go
  • go to Insert in the program menu and open up Symbol
  • highlight the appropriate dash located there
  • hit insert

On a Mac, dashes are made in Word the same way, or simultaneously hit the option and hyphen keys to make an en dash and option/shift/hyphen for the em dash.

You can also create your own shortcuts for the em dash and the en dash on the PC by following the directions in the Symbol section.


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