Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to Make the Long Dashes

There's the En dash, the Em dash, and the plain old hyphen. When to use them and how to make them.

Never use a hyphen when you mean a dash. Mostly hypens are for making a word (like X-ray) or for writing out numbers (twenty-one). 

To make the Em dash (which is the more popular between Em and En):

On a laptop, press the NumLk key then hold down ALT and type 0 1 5 1 (these are the numbers on the keys that were alpha-characters before you pressed ALT—not the row of numbers across the top of the keyboard) and release ALT. As soon as you lift your finger off the ALT key the Em dash will appear. Tap the NumLk key again to return to alpha characters. Of course if you have a keypad, you don't need to press the NumLk key. (On the Mac I understand it's shift, option, hyphen - but haven't verified)

The En dash would be ALT and 0 1 5 0 (generally used to separate two numbers, such as in a date (2011–12) or score (5–0).

In Microsoft Word, Excel, etc., it's easier:

First try typing two dashes one after the other—this works sometimes.

Otherwise, for the Em dash, you still need to press the NumLk key, then CTRL+ALT+Dash (the one that's available because you pressed the NumLk key—mine is on the same key as my colon/simi-colon).

For En dash, press the NumLk key, then CTRL+Dash

If you can't be bothered, simply cut/paste:
- (hyphen)
– (en-dash)
— (em-dash)

...there you go.

Let Grammer Girl tell you when and how to use them!

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