Dashes, hyphens, en-dashes, and em-dashes. How and when are you supposed to use them

Hyphens

Hyphens are short. Hyphens are usually on your computer keyboard on the number row. Hyphens are used to make compound words, like self-esteem. They are also used to break words apart at the ends of sentences. No space should ever be used around the hyphen. If the hyphen is removed, the word should be whole. If a space is present, the word is still in pieces.

En-dashes

En-dashes are used to denote ranges of numbers. Again, no spaces should be present. En-dashes get their name because originally, the en-dash, was the length of the n character on a printing press.

In Word, you can get an en-dash by hitting Control, Num, and - simultaneously.

In HTML, you can get the en-dash by using the code –

Em-dashes

Em-dashes have their name because they were originally the length of the m character on the old printing presses.

Em-dashes create appositives like parentheses or a set of commas.

In Word, you can get an em-dash by hitting Alt, Control, Num, and -.

In HTML you can get an em-dash by using the code —

 

  Correct Incorrect
Hyphen It was uncontrollable. It was un-controllable. It was uncontrollable. It was un - controllable.
En-dash 5–9 5 – 9
Em-dash She swam to the other side of the shore—it took a long time. She swam to the other side of the shore — it took a long time.
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