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Inserting Different Dashes

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Inserting Different Dashes.

Typographers use different dashes for different purposes. The only difference between the dashes is their width. For instance, you get one type of dash when you press on the minus key-it is a dash that is very narrow. A longer dash is called an en dash, because it is the same width as a lowercase n. An en-dash is typically used to denote ranges of numbers. Wider still is the em-dash, which is just as wide as a lowercase m. The em-dash is typically used in sentences, as a dash between clauses. To insert an en-dash in your document, hold down the Alt key and type 0150 on the numeric keypad; an em-dash is produced by holding down the Alt key and typing 0151.

Another way to insert the dashes is to use the minus key on the numeric keypad. If you press Ctrl+- (remember, on the numeric keypad), then Word inserts an en-dash. The wider em-dash is inserted by using Ctrl+Alt+-.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (17) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Inserting Different Dashes.

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Comments for this tip:

Anita Stuever    03 Nov 2012, 09:23
"The only difference between the dashes is their width."

Not really. The hyphen (what you call a narrow dash) is lower than the en dash and the em dash. Similarly, the minus sign (not addressed in this tip) is higher than the hyphen.

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