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Not to be confused with Hyphen, Minus sign, or Hyphen-minus. Dash_sentence_0

For other uses, see Dash (disambiguation). Dash_sentence_1

The dash is a punctuation mark that is similar in appearance to the hyphen and minus sign but differs from these symbols in length and, in some fonts, height above the baseline. Dash_sentence_2

The most common versions of the dash are the en dash –, longer than the hyphen; the em dash —, longer than the en dash; and the horizontal bar ―, whose length varies across typefaces but tends to be between those of the en and em dashes. Dash_sentence_3

Historically, the names of en dash and em dash came from the width of an uppercase N and uppercase M, respectively, in commonly used fonts. Dash_sentence_4

Types of dash Dash_section_0

Usage varies both within English and in other languages, but the usual convention in printed English text is as follows: Dash_sentence_5


  • An em dash or a spaced en dash can be used to mark a break in a sentence, and a pair can be used to set off parenthetical statements.Glitter, felt, yarn, and buttons—his kitchen looked as if a clown had exploded. A flock of sparrows – some of them juveniles – alighted and sang.Dash_item_0_0
  • The en dash but not the em dash indicates spans or differentiation, where it may be considered to replace "and" or "to":The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was fought in western Pennsylvania and along the present US–Canada border (Edwards, pp. 81–101).Dash_item_0_1
  • The em dash or the horizontal bar, but not the en dash, is used to set off the sources of quotes:Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.Dash_item_0_2
  • The horizontal bar or the em dash, but not the en dash, introduces quoted text at line start.Dash_item_0_3

Common dashes and their Unicode code-points Dash_section_1

There are several forms of dash, of which the most common are: Dash_sentence_6


Dash_header_cell_0_0_0 glyphDash_header_cell_0_0_1 Unicode code pointDash_header_cell_0_0_2 Unicode nameDash_header_cell_0_0_3 HTML character entity referenceDash_header_cell_0_0_4 HTML/XML numeric character referencesDash_header_cell_0_0_5 TeXDash_header_cell_0_0_6 Alt code (Windows)Dash_header_cell_0_0_7 macOS key combinationDash_header_cell_0_0_8 Compose keyDash_header_cell_0_0_9 vim digraphDash_header_cell_0_0_10 Microsoft Word key combinationDash_header_cell_0_0_11 GTK+ apps (e.g. LibreOffice on Xorg)Dash_header_cell_0_0_12
figure dashDash_header_cell_0_1_0 Dash_cell_0_1_1 U+2012Dash_cell_0_1_2 figure dashDash_cell_0_1_3 Dash_cell_0_1_4


Dash_cell_0_1_6 Dash_cell_0_1_7 Dash_cell_0_1_8 Dash_cell_0_1_9 Dash_cell_0_1_10 Dash_cell_0_1_11 Ctrl+⇧ Shiftu2012Dash_cell_0_1_12
en dashDash_header_cell_0_2_0 Dash_cell_0_2_1 U+2013Dash_cell_0_2_2 en dashDash_cell_0_2_3 Dash_cell_0_2_4


--Dash_cell_0_2_6 Alt+0150Dash_cell_0_2_7 ⌥ Opt+-Dash_cell_0_2_8 Compose--.Dash_cell_0_2_9 Ctrl+K-NDash_cell_0_2_10 Ctrl+Num -Dash_cell_0_2_11 Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2013Dash_cell_0_2_12
em dashDash_header_cell_0_3_0 Dash_cell_0_3_1 U+2014Dash_cell_0_3_2 em dashDash_cell_0_3_3 Dash_cell_0_3_4


---Dash_cell_0_3_6 Alt+0151Dash_cell_0_3_7 ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+-Dash_cell_0_3_8 Compose---Dash_cell_0_3_9 Ctrl+K-MDash_cell_0_3_10 Ctrl+Alt+Num -Dash_cell_0_3_11 Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2014Dash_cell_0_3_12
horizontal barDash_header_cell_0_4_0 Dash_cell_0_4_1 U+2015Dash_cell_0_4_2 horizontal barDash_cell_0_4_3 ―Dash_cell_0_4_4


Dash_cell_0_4_6 Dash_cell_0_4_7 Dash_cell_0_4_8 Dash_cell_0_4_9 Ctrl+K-3Dash_cell_0_4_10 Dash_cell_0_4_11 Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2015Dash_cell_0_4_12
swung dashDash_header_cell_0_5_0 Dash_cell_0_5_1 U+2053Dash_cell_0_5_2 swung dashDash_cell_0_5_3 Dash_cell_0_5_4


$\sim$Dash_cell_0_5_6 Dash_cell_0_5_7 Dash_cell_0_5_8 Dash_cell_0_5_9 Dash_cell_0_5_10 Dash_cell_0_5_11 Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u2053Dash_cell_0_5_12

Less common are the two-em dash (⸺) and three-em dash (⸻), both added to Unicode with version 6.1 as U+2E3A and U+2E3B. Dash_sentence_7

Figure dash Dash_section_2

The figure dash ‒ has the same width as a numerical digit; most fonts have digits of equal width. Dash_sentence_8

It is used within numbers (e.g., the phone number 555‒0199), especially in columns, for maintaining alignment. Dash_sentence_9

Its meaning is the same as a hyphen, as represented by hyphen-minus. Dash_sentence_10

In contrast, the en dash is generally used for a range of values. Dash_sentence_11

The minus sign (−) glyph is generally set a little higher. Dash_sentence_12

When the figure dash is unavailable, a hyphen-minus is often used instead. Dash_sentence_13

In Unicode, the figure dash is U+2012 (decimal 8210). Dash_sentence_14

HTML provides no character entity for it; it can be represented by the numeric character reference ‒ or ‒. Dash_sentence_15

In TeX, the standard fonts have no figure dash; however, the digits normally all have the same width as the en dash, so an en dash can be substituted. Dash_sentence_16

In XeLaTeX, one can use \char"2012. Dash_sentence_17

The Linux Libertine font also has the figure dash glyph. Dash_sentence_18

En dash Dash_section_3

The en dash, en rule, or nut dash – is traditionally half the width of an em dash. Dash_sentence_19

In modern fonts, the length of the en dash is not standardized, and the en dash is often more than half the width of the em dash. Dash_sentence_20

The widths of en and em dashes have also been specified as being equal to those of the upper-case letters N and M, respectively, and at other times to the widths of the lower-case letters. Dash_sentence_21

Usage Dash_section_4

The three main uses of the en dash are to connect symmetric items, such as the two ends of a range or two competitors or alternatives, as a substitute for a hyphen in a compound when one of the connected items is more complex than a single word, and as an at sentence level, substituting for a pair of commas, parentheses, or to indicate a rhetorical pause. Dash_sentence_22

It is sometimes held that, when used as an interruptor, the en dash should be "open" – spaced on both sides – in contrast to the em dash, which is closed. Dash_sentence_23

Ranges of values Dash_section_5

The en dash is commonly used to indicate a closed range of values – a range with clearly defined and finite upper and lower boundaries – roughly signifying what might otherwise be communicated by the word "through". Dash_sentence_24

This may include ranges such as those between dates, times, or numbers. Dash_sentence_25

Various style guides restrict this range indication style to only parenthetical or tabular matter, requiring "to" or "through" in running text. Dash_sentence_26

Preference for hyphen vs. en dash in ranges varies. Dash_sentence_27

For example, the APA style (named after the American Psychological Association) uses an en dash in ranges, but the AMA style (named after the American Medical Association) uses a hyphen: Dash_sentence_28


En dash range style (e.g., APA)Dash_header_cell_1_0_0 Hyphen range style (e.g., AMA)Dash_header_cell_1_0_1 Running text spell-outDash_header_cell_1_0_2
June–July 1967Dash_cell_1_1_0 June-July 1967Dash_cell_1_1_1 June and July 1967Dash_cell_1_1_2
1:15–2:15 p.m.Dash_cell_1_2_0 1:15-2:15 p.m.Dash_cell_1_2_1 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.Dash_cell_1_2_2
For ages 3–5Dash_cell_1_3_0 For ages 3-5Dash_cell_1_3_1 For ages 3 through 5Dash_cell_1_3_2
pp. 38–55Dash_cell_1_4_0 pp. 38-55Dash_cell_1_4_1 pages 38 to 55Dash_cell_1_4_2
President Jimmy Carter (1977–81)Dash_cell_1_5_0 President Jimmy Carter (1977-81)Dash_cell_1_5_1 President Jimmy Carter, in office from 1977 to 1981Dash_cell_1_5_2

Some style guides (including the Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI) and the AMA Manual of Style) recommend that, when a number range might be misconstrued as subtraction, the word "to" should be used instead of an en dash. Dash_sentence_29

For example, "a voltage of 50 V to 100 V" is preferable to using "a voltage of 50–100 V". Dash_sentence_30

Relatedly, in ranges that include negative numbers, "to" is used to avoid ambiguity or awkwardness (for example, "temperatures ranged from −18 °C to −34 °C"). Dash_sentence_31

It is also considered poor style (best avoided) to use the en dash in place of the words "to" or "and" in phrases that follow the forms from X to Y and between X and Y. Dash_sentence_32

Relationships and connections Dash_section_6

The en dash is used to contrast values or illustrate a relationship between two things. Dash_sentence_33

Examples of this usage include: Dash_sentence_34


  • Australia beat American Samoa 31–0.Dash_item_1_4
  • Radical–Unionist coalitionDash_item_1_5
  • Boston–Hartford routeDash_item_1_6
  • New York–London flight (however, it may be seen that New York to London flight is more appropriate because New York is a single name composed of two valid words; with a dash the phrase is ambiguous and could mean either Flight from New York to London or New flight from York to London)Dash_item_1_7
  • Mother–daughter relationshipDash_item_1_8
  • The Supreme Court voted 5–4 to uphold the decision.Dash_item_1_9

A distinction is often made between "simple" attributive compounds (written with a hyphen) and other subtypes (written with an en dash); at least one authority considers name pairs, where the paired elements carry equal weight, as in the Taft–Hartley Act to be "simple", while others consider an en dash appropriate in instances such as these to represent the parallel relationship, as in the McCain–Feingold bill or Bose–Einstein statistics. Dash_sentence_35

When an act of the U. S. Congress is named using the surnames of the senator and representative who sponsored it, the hyphen-minus is used in the short title; thus the short title of Public Law 111–203 is "The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act", with a hyphen-minus rather than an en dash between "Dodd" and "Frank". Dash_sentence_36

However, there is a difference between something named for a parallel/coordinate relationship between two people (for example, Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein) and something named for a single person who had a compound surname, which may be written with a hyphen or a space but not an en dash (for example, the Lennard-Jones potential [hyphen] is named after one person (Mr. John Lennard-Jones), as are Bence Jones proteins and Hughlings Jackson syndrome). Dash_sentence_37

Copyeditors use dictionaries (general, medical, biographical, and geographical) to confirm the eponymity (and thus the styling) for specific terms, given that no one can know them all offhand. Dash_sentence_38

Preference for an en dash instead of a hyphen in these coordinate/relationship/connection types of terms is a matter of style, not inherent orthographic "correctness"; both are equally "correct", and each is the preferred style in some style guides. Dash_sentence_39

For example, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the AMA Manual of Style, and Dorland's medical reference works use hyphens, not en dashes, in coordinate terms (such as "blood-brain barrier"), in eponyms (such as "Cheyne-Stokes respiration", "Kaplan-Meier method"), and so on. Dash_sentence_40

Attributive compounds Dash_section_7

In English, the en dash is usually used instead of a hyphen in compound (phrasal) attributives in which one or both elements is itself a compound, especially when the compound element is an , meaning it is not itself hyphenated. Dash_sentence_41

This manner of usage may include such examples as: Dash_sentence_42


  • The hospital–nursing home connection (the connection between the hospital and the nursing home, not a home connection between the hospital and nursing)Dash_item_2_10
  • A nursing home–home care policy (a policy about the nursing home and home care)Dash_item_2_11
  • Pre–Civil War eraDash_item_2_12
  • Pulitzer Prize–winning novelDash_item_2_13
  • The non–San Francisco part of the worldDash_item_2_14
  • The post–World War II eraDash_item_2_15
    • (Compare post-war era, which, if not fully compounded (postwar), takes a hyphen, not an en dash. The difference is that war is not an open compound whereas World War II is.)Dash_item_2_16
  • Trans–New Guinea languagesDash_item_2_17
  • The ex–prime ministerDash_item_2_18
  • a long–focal length cameraDash_item_2_19
  • water ice–based bedrockDash_item_2_20
  • The pro-conscription–anti-conscription debateDash_item_2_21
  • Public-school–private-school rivalriesDash_item_2_22

The disambiguating value of the en dash in these patterns was illustrated by Strunk and White in The Elements of Style with the following example: When Chattanooga News and Chattanooga Free Press merged, the joint company was inaptly named Chattanooga News-Free Press (using a hyphen), which could be interpreted as meaning that their newspapers were news-free. Dash_sentence_43

An exception to the use of en dashes is usually made when prefixing an already-; an en dash is generally avoided as a distraction in this case. Dash_sentence_44

Examples of this include: Dash_sentence_45


  • non-English-speaking air traffic controllersDash_item_3_23
  • semi-labor-intensive industriesDash_item_3_24
  • Proto-Indo-European languageDash_item_3_25
  • The post-MS-DOS eraDash_item_3_26
  • non-government-owned corporationsDash_item_3_27

An en dash can be retained to avoid ambiguity, but whether any ambiguity is plausible is a judgment call. Dash_sentence_46

AMA style retains the en dashes in the following examples: Dash_sentence_47


  • non–self-governingDash_item_4_28
  • non–English-language journalsDash_item_4_29
  • non–group-specific bloodDash_item_4_30
  • non–Q-wave myocardial infarctionDash_item_4_31
  • non–brain-injured subjectsDash_item_4_32

Differing recommendations Dash_section_8

As discussed above, the en dash is sometimes recommended instead of a hyphen in compound adjectives where neither part of the adjective modifies the other—that is, when each modifies the noun, as in love–hate relationship. Dash_sentence_48

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), however, limits the use of the en dash to two main purposes: Dash_sentence_49


  • First, use it to indicate ranges of time, money, or other amounts, or in certain other cases where it replaces the word "to".Dash_item_5_33
  • Second, use it in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of the elements of the adjective is an open compound, or when two or more of its elements are compounds, open or hyphenated.Dash_item_5_34

That is, the CMOS favors hyphens in instances where some other guides suggest en dashes, the 16th edition explaining that "Chicago's sense of the en dash does not extend to between", to rule out its use in "US–Canadian relations". Dash_sentence_50

In these two uses, en dashes normally do not have spaces around them. Dash_sentence_51

Some make an exception when they believe avoiding spaces may cause confusion or look odd. Dash_sentence_52

For example, compare "12 June – 3 July" with "12 June–3 July". Dash_sentence_53

However, other authorities disagree and state there should be no space between an en dash and the adjacent text. Dash_sentence_54

These authorities would not include a space in the following examples: "11:00 a.m.⁠–⁠1:00 p.m." and "July 9–August 17". Dash_sentence_55

Parenthetic and other uses at the sentence level Dash_section_9

See also: § En dash versus em dash Dash_sentence_56

Like em dashes, en dashes can be used instead of colons or pairs of commas that mark off a nested clause or phrase. Dash_sentence_57

They can also be used around parenthetical expressions – such as this one – in place of the em dashes preferred by some publishers, particularly where short columns are used, since em dashes can look awkward at the end of a line. Dash_sentence_58

In these situations, en dashes must have a single space on each side. Dash_sentence_59

Itemization mark Dash_section_10

Either the en dash or the em dash may be used as a bullet at the start of each item in a bulleted list. Dash_sentence_60

(This is a matter of graphic design rather than orthography.) Dash_sentence_61

Typography Dash_section_11

Spacing Dash_section_12

In most uses of en dashes, such as when used in indicating ranges, they are closed up to the joined words. Dash_sentence_62

It is only when en dashes take the role of em dashes – for example, in setting off parenthetical statements such as this one – that they take spaces around them. Dash_sentence_63

For more on the choice of em versus en in this context, see En dash versus em dash. Dash_sentence_64

Encoding and substitution Dash_section_13

When an en dash is unavailable in a particular character encoding environment—as in the ASCII character set—there are some conventional substitutions. Dash_sentence_65

Often two hyphens are the substitute. Dash_sentence_66

In Unicode, the en dash is U+2013 (decimal 8211). Dash_sentence_67

In HTML, one may use the numeric forms – or –; there is also the HTML entity –. Dash_sentence_68

The en dash is sometimes used as a substitute for the minus sign, when the minus sign character is not available since the en dash is usually the same width as a plus sign. Dash_sentence_69

For example, the original 8-bit Macintosh Character Set had an en dash, useful for the minus sign, years before Unicode with a dedicated minus sign was available. Dash_sentence_70

The hyphen-minus is usually too narrow to make a typographically acceptable minus sign. Dash_sentence_71

However, the en dash cannot be used for a minus sign in programming languages because the syntax usually requires a hyphen-minus. Dash_sentence_72

Em dash Dash_section_14

The em dash, em rule, or mutton dash — is longer than an en dash. Dash_sentence_73

The character is called an em dash because it is one em wide, a length that varies depending on the font size. Dash_sentence_74

One em is the same length as the font's height (which is typically measured in points). Dash_sentence_75

So in 9-point type, an em dash is nine points wide, while in 24-point type the em dash is 24 points wide. Dash_sentence_76

By comparison, the en dash, with its 1 en width, is in most fonts either a half-em wide or the width of an upper-case "N". Dash_sentence_77

Usage Dash_section_15

The em dash is used in several ways. Dash_sentence_78

Primarily in places where a set of parentheses or a colon might otherwise be used, it can show an abrupt change in thought or be used where a full stop (period) is too strong and a comma too weak. Dash_sentence_79

Em dashes are also used to set off summaries or definitions. Dash_sentence_80

Common uses and definitions are cited below with examples. Dash_sentence_81

Colon-like use Dash_section_16

Simple equivalence (or near-equivalence) of colon and em dash Dash_section_17


  • Three alkali metals are the usual substituents: sodium, potassium, and lithium.Dash_item_6_35
  • Three alkali metals are the usual substituents—sodium, potassium, and lithium.Dash_item_6_36
Inversion of the function of a colon Dash_section_18


  • These are the colors of the flag: red, white, and blue.Dash_item_7_37
  • Red, white, and blue—these are the colors of the flag.Dash_item_7_38

Parenthesis-like use Dash_section_19

Simple equivalence (or near-equivalence) of paired parenthetical marks Dash_section_20


  • Compare parentheses with em dashes:Dash_item_8_39
    • Three alkali metals (sodium, potassium, and lithium) are the usual substituents.Dash_item_8_40
    • Three alkali metals—sodium, potassium, and lithium—are the usual substituents.Dash_item_8_41
  • Compare commas, em dashes and parentheses (respectively) when no internal commas intervene:Dash_item_8_42
    • The food, which was delicious, reminded me of home.Dash_item_8_43
    • The food—which was delicious—reminded me of home.Dash_item_8_44
    • The food (which was delicious) reminded me of home.Dash_item_8_45
Subtle differences in punctuation Dash_section_21

It may indicate an interpolation stronger than that demarcated by parentheses, as in the following from Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine (the degree of difference is subjective). Dash_sentence_82


  • "At that age I once stabbed my best friend, Fred, with a pair of pinking shears in the base of the neck, enraged because he had been given the comprehensive sixty-four-crayon Crayola box—including the gold and silver crayons—and would not let me look closely at the box to see how Crayola had stabilized the built-in crayon sharpener under the tiers of crayons."Dash_item_9_46

Interruption of a speaker Dash_section_22

Interruption by someone else Dash_section_23

In this use, it is sometimes doubled: Dash_sentence_83


  • "But I'm trying to explain that I—" "I'm aware of your mitigating circumstances, but your negative attitude was excessive."Dash_item_10_47

In a related use, it may visually indicate the shift between speakers when they overlap in speech. Dash_sentence_84

For example, the em dash is used this way in Joseph Heller's Catch-22: Dash_sentence_85


  • He was Cain, Ulysses, the Flying Dutchman; he was Lot in Sodom, Deirdre of the Sorrows, Sweeney in the nightingales among trees. He was the miracle ingredient Z-147. He was— "Crazy!" Clevinger interrupted, shrieking. "That's what you are! Crazy!" "—immense. I'm a real, slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger. I'm a bona fide supraman."Dash_item_11_48
Self-interruption Dash_section_24


  • Simple revision of a statement as one's thoughts evolve on the fly:Dash_item_12_49
    • "I believe I shall—no, I'm going to do it."Dash_item_12_50
  • Contemplative or emotional trailing off (usually in dialogue or in first person narrative):Dash_item_12_51


  • Either an ellipsis or an em dash can indicate aposiopesis, the rhetorical device by which a sentence is stopped short not because of interruption, but because the speaker is too emotional or pensive to continue. Because the ellipsis is the more common choice, an em dash for this purpose may be ambiguous in expository text, as many readers would assume interruption, although it may be used to indicate great emotion in dramatic monologue.Dash_item_13_54


  • Long pause:Dash_item_14_55
    • In Early Modern English texts and afterward, em dashes have been used to add long pauses (as noted by Joseph Robertson's 1785 An Essay On Punctuation):Dash_item_14_56


  • Dash_item_15_57
    • Lord Cardinal! if thou think'st on heaven's bliss, Hold up thy hand, make signal of that hope.— He dies, and makes no sign!Dash_item_15_58

Quotation Dash_section_25

Quotation mark-like use Dash_section_26

This is a quotation dash. Dash_sentence_86

It may be distinct from an em dash in its coding (see Horizontal bar). Dash_sentence_87

It may be used to indicate turns in a dialog, in which case each dash starts a paragraph. Dash_sentence_88

It replaces other quotation marks and was preferred by authors such as James Joyce: Dash_sentence_89


  • ―O saints above! miss Douce said, sighed above her jumping rose. I wished I hadn't laughed so much. I feel all wet.Dash_item_16_59
  • ―O, miss Douce! miss Kennedy protested. You horrid thing!Dash_item_16_60
Attribution of quote source Dash_section_27


  • Inline quotes:Dash_item_17_61
  • Block quotes:Dash_item_17_63

Redaction Dash_section_28

See also: Fillet (redaction) Dash_sentence_90

An em dash may be used to indicate omitted letters in a word redacted to an initial or single letter or to fillet a word, by leaving the start and end letters whilst replacing the middle letters with a dash or dashes (for the purposes of censorship or simply data anonymization). Dash_sentence_91

In this use, it is sometimes doubled. Dash_sentence_92


  • It was alleged that D—— had been threatened with blackmail.Dash_item_18_64

Three em dashes might be used to indicate a completely missing word. Dash_sentence_93

Itemization mark Dash_section_29

Either the en dash or the em dash may be used as a bullet at the start of each item in a bulleted list, but a plain hyphen is more commonly used. Dash_sentence_94

Repetition Dash_section_30

Three em dashes one after another can be used in a footnote, endnote, or another form of bibliographic entry to indicate repetition of the same author's name as that of the previous work, which is similar to the use of ibid. Dash_sentence_95

Typographic details Dash_section_31

Spacing and substitution Dash_section_32

According to most American sources (such as The Chicago Manual of Style) and some British sources (such as The Oxford Guide to Style), an em dash should always be set closed, meaning it should not be surrounded by spaces. Dash_sentence_96

But the practice in some parts of the English-speaking world, including the style recommended by The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage for printed newspapers and the AP Stylebook, sets it open, separating it from its surrounding words by using spaces or hair spaces (U+200A) when it is being used parenthetically. Dash_sentence_97

The AP Stylebook rejects the use of the open em dash to set off introductory items in lists. Dash_sentence_98

However, the "space, en dash, space" sequence is the predominant style in German and French typography. Dash_sentence_99

(See En dash versus em dash below.) Dash_sentence_100

In Canada, The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing, The Oxford Canadian A to Z of Grammar, Spelling & Punctuation: Guide to Canadian English Usage (2nd ed. Dash_sentence_101

), Editing Canadian English, and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary all specify that an em dash should be set closed when used between words, a word and numeral, or two numerals. Dash_sentence_102

The Australian government's Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers (6th ed. Dash_sentence_103

), also specifies that em dashes inserted between words, a word and numeral, or two numerals, should be set closed. Dash_sentence_104

A section on the 2-em rule (⸺) also explains that the 2-em can be used to mark an abrupt break in direct or reported speech, but a space is used before the 2-em if a complete word is missing, while no space is used if part of a word exists before the sudden break. Dash_sentence_105

Two examples of this are as follows (properly typeset 2-em and 3-em dashes should appear as a single dash, but they may show on this page as several em dashes with spaces in between): Dash_sentence_106


  • I distinctly heard him say, "Go away or I'll ——".Dash_item_19_65
  • It was alleged that D—— had been threatened with blackmail.Dash_item_19_66

Approximating the em dash with two or three hyphens Dash_section_33

When an em dash is unavailable in a particular character encoding environment—as in the ASCII character set—it has usually been approximated as a double (--) or triple (---) hyphen-minus. Dash_sentence_107

The two-hyphen em dash proxy is perhaps more common, being a widespread convention in the typewriting era. Dash_sentence_108

(It is still described for hard copy manuscript preparation in the Chicago Manual of Style as of the 16th edition, although the manual conveys that typewritten manuscript and copyediting on paper are now dated practices). Dash_sentence_109

The three-hyphen em dash proxy was popular with various publishers because the sequence of one, two, or three hyphens could then correspond to the hyphen, en dash, and em dash, respectively. Dash_sentence_110

Because early comic book letterers were not aware of the typographic convention of replacing a typewritten double hyphen with an em dash, the double hyphen became traditional in American comics. Dash_sentence_111

This practice has continued despite the development of computer lettering. Dash_sentence_112

En dash versus em dash Dash_section_34

The en dash is wider than the hyphen but not as wide as the em dash. Dash_sentence_113

An em width is defined as the point size of the currently used font, since the M character is not always the width of the point size. Dash_sentence_114

In running text, various dash conventions are employed: an em dash—like so—or a spaced em dash — like so — or a spaced en dash – like so – can be seen in contemporary publications. Dash_sentence_115

Various style guides and national varieties of languages prescribe different guidance on dashes. Dash_sentence_116

Dashes have been cited as being treated differently in the US and the UK, with the former preferring the use of an em dash with no additional spacing and the latter preferring a spaced en dash. Dash_sentence_117

As examples of the US style, The Chicago Manual of Style and The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association recommend unspaced em dashes. Dash_sentence_118

Style guides outside the US are more variable. Dash_sentence_119

For example, The Elements of Typographic Style by Canadian typographer Robert Bringhurst recommends the spaced en dash – like so – and argues that the length and visual magnitude of an em dash "belongs to the padded and corseted aesthetic of Victorian typography". Dash_sentence_120

In the United Kingdom, the spaced en dash is the house style for certain major publishers, including the Penguin Group, the Cambridge University Press, and Routledge. Dash_sentence_121

However, this convention is not universal. Dash_sentence_122

The Oxford Guide to Style (2002, section 5.10.10) acknowledges that the spaced en dash is used by "other British publishers" but states that the Oxford University Press, like "most US publishers", uses the unspaced em dash. Dash_sentence_123

The en dash – always with spaces in running text when, as discussed in this section, indicating a parenthesis or pause – and the spaced em dash both have a certain technical advantage over the unspaced em dash. Dash_sentence_124

Most typesetting and word processing expects word spacing to vary to support full justification. Dash_sentence_125

Alone among punctuation that marks pauses or logical relations in text, the unspaced em dash disables this for the words it falls between. Dash_sentence_126

This can cause uneven spacing in the text, but can be mitigated by the use of thin spaces, hair spaces, or even zero-width spaces on the sides of the em dash. Dash_sentence_127

This provides the appearance of an unspaced em dash, but allows the words and dashes to break between lines. Dash_sentence_128

The spaced em dash risks introducing excessive separation of words. Dash_sentence_129

In full justification, the adjacent spaces may be stretched, and the separation of words further exaggerated. Dash_sentence_130

En dashes may also be preferred to em dashes when text is set in narrow columns, such as in newspapers and similar publications, since the en dash is smaller. Dash_sentence_131

In such cases, its use is based purely on space considerations and is not necessarily related to other typographical concerns. Dash_sentence_132

On the other hand, a spaced en dash may be ambiguous when it is also used for ranges, for example, in dates or between geographical locations with internal spaces. Dash_sentence_133

Horizontal bar Dash_section_35

Main article: Quotation mark § Quotation dash Dash_sentence_134

The horizontal bar (U+2015 ― ), also known as a quotation dash, is used to introduce quoted text. Dash_sentence_135

This is the standard method of printing dialogue in some languages. Dash_sentence_136

The em dash is equally suitable if the quotation dash is unavailable or is contrary to the house style being used. Dash_sentence_137

There is no support in the standard TeX fonts, but one can use \hbox{---}\kern-.5em--- instead, or simply an em dash. Dash_sentence_138

Swung dash Dash_section_36

Main article: Tilde § Punctuation Dash_sentence_139

The swung dash (U+2053 ⁓ ) resembles a lengthened tilde and is used to separate alternatives or approximates. Dash_sentence_140

In dictionaries, it is frequently used to stand in for the term being defined. Dash_sentence_141

A dictionary entry providing an example for the term henceforth might employ the swung dash as follows: Dash_sentence_142


  • henceforth (adv.) from this time forth; from now on; "⁓ she will be known as Mrs. Wales"Dash_item_20_67

There are several similar, related characters: Dash_sentence_143


  • U+007E ~ TILDE (see below in § Similar Unicode Characters)Dash_item_21_68
  • U+02DC ˜ SMALL TILDE (see below in § Similar Unicode Characters)Dash_item_21_69
  • U+223C ∼ TILDE OPERATOR, used in mathematics. Ends less curved than regular tilde. In TeX and LaTeX, this character can be expressed using the math mode command $\sim$.Dash_item_21_70
  • U+301C 〜 WAVE DASH, used in East Asian typography for a variety of purposes, including Japanese punctuation.Dash_item_21_71
  • U+FF5E ~ FULLWIDTH TILDE is a compatibility character for a wide tilde used in East Asian typography.Dash_item_21_72

Rendering dashes on computers Dash_section_37

For insertion of dashes using their Unicode code points (U+2013 for en dash and U+2014 for em dash), see Unicode input. Dash_sentence_144

Typewriters and early computers have traditionally had only a limited character set, often having no key that produces a dash. Dash_sentence_145

In consequence, it became common to substitute the nearest available punctuation mark or symbol. Dash_sentence_146

Em dashes are often represented in British usage by a single hyphen-minus surrounded by spaces, or in American usage by two hyphen-minuses surrounded by spaces. Dash_sentence_147

Modern computer software typically has support for many more characters and is usually capable of rendering both the en and em dashes correctly—albeit sometimes with an inconvenient input method. Dash_sentence_148

Some software, though, may operate in a more limited mode. Dash_sentence_149

Some text editors, for example, were restricted to working with a single 8-bit (pre-Unicode) character encoding, and when unencodable characters are entered—for example by pasting from the clipboard—they were often blindly converted to question marks. Dash_sentence_150

Sometimes this happened to em and en dashes, even when the 8-bit encoding supported them or when an alternative representation using hyphen-minuses is an option. Dash_sentence_151

Techniques for generating em and en dashes in various operating systems, word processors and markup languages are provided in the following table: Dash_sentence_152


ProgramDash_header_cell_2_0_0 The em dash (—) can be produced by:Dash_header_cell_2_0_1 The en dash (–) can be

produced by:Dash_header_cell_2_0_2

UNIX and GNU/LinuxDash_cell_2_1_0 Pressing and releasing Compose then typing ---. Alternatively, pressing ⇧ Shift+Ctrl+U, then releasing and typing 2014Dash_cell_2_1_1 Pressing and releasing Compose then typing --.. Alternatively, pressing ⇧ Shift+Ctrl+U, then releasing and typing 2013Dash_cell_2_1_2 The latter key combination works in GTK+ applications, including outside UNIX and GNU/Linux.Dash_cell_2_1_3
macOSDash_cell_2_2_0 ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+-Dash_cell_2_2_1 ⌥ Opt+-Dash_cell_2_2_2 Works when using the Australian, British, Canadian, Finnish, French, German, Irish, Irish Extended, Italian, Pro Italian, Russian, US, US Extended, or Welsh keyboard layouts.Dash_cell_2_2_3
iOS and AndroidDash_cell_2_3_0 Holding the - in the on-screen keyboard until a popup appears with choices, then sliding the finger or thumb upwards to the desired option, then releasing.Dash_cell_2_3_1 In iOS, the em dash is the third option while the en dash is second. For Android, the em dash is first and the en dash third.Dash_cell_2_3_3
Microsoft WindowsDash_cell_2_4_0 Enabling Num Lock, then holding down Alt and pressing 0151 on the numeric keypad.

On US keyboard layouts without a numeric pad, the combination Alt+Fn+MJIJ can be used.Dash_cell_2_4_1

Enabling Num Lock, then holding down Alt and pressing 0150 on the numeric keypad.

On US keyboard layouts without a numeric pad, the combination Alt+Fn+MJIM can be used.Dash_cell_2_4_2

A scripting language may also be used. If an AutoHotkey script is in effect containing the command  ^m:: —  , for example, Ctrl+M will produce an em dash. The command itself needs to contain the dash, but this can be copy/pasted from, e.g., this article.Dash_cell_2_4_3
Microsoft WordDash_cell_2_5_0 Typing Ctrl+Alt+-, using the hyphen on the number pad. On computers without a number pad, typing 002014 followed by Alt+X.Dash_cell_2_5_1 Typing Ctrl+-, using the hyphen on the number pad. On computers without a number pad, typing 002013 followed by Alt+X.Dash_cell_2_5_2 Microsoft Word's default Autocorrect will insert an em dash when two unspaced hyphens are entered between words (for example, "word--word" is converted to "word—word") and an en dash when one or two hyphens surrounded by spaces are entered (for example, "word - word" or "word -- word" is converted to "word–word"). However, Autocorrect may insert the em or en dash in a different font than that of the surrounding text.Dash_cell_2_5_3
Wordpad and LibreOffice (Calc, Writer, etc.)Dash_cell_2_6_0 Typing 002014 followed by Alt+X.Dash_cell_2_6_1 Typing 002013 followed by Alt+X.Dash_cell_2_6_2 The initial 00 can be omitted if the preceding character is not in the range 0–9, a–f, or A–F.Dash_cell_2_6_3
HTML and Mozilla ThunderbirdDash_cell_2_7_0 Dash_cell_2_7_1 Dash_cell_2_7_2 From the Insert option on the Thunderbird toolbar the user can select HTML to open a window into which these codes can be entered.Dash_cell_2_7_3
LaTeXDash_cell_2_8_0 \textemdash or ---Dash_cell_2_8_1 \textendash or --Dash_cell_2_8_2 These options also work in TeX.Dash_cell_2_8_3
Plan 9Dash_cell_2_9_0 Pressing and releasing Compose then typing EMDash_cell_2_9_1 Pressing and releasing Compose then typing ENDash_cell_2_9_2 Dash_cell_2_9_3

Similar characters and their Unicode code-points Dash_section_38


SampleDash_header_cell_3_0_0 Repeated (5×) for clarityDash_header_cell_3_0_1 UnicodeDash_header_cell_3_0_2 NameDash_header_cell_3_0_3 RemarkDash_header_cell_3_0_4
-Dash_cell_3_1_0 -----Dash_cell_3_1_1 U+002DDash_cell_3_1_2 hyphen-minusDash_cell_3_1_3 The standard ASCII hyphen. Sometimes this is used in groups to indicate different types of dash.

In programming languages, it is the character usually used to denote operators like the subtraction or the negative sign.Dash_cell_3_1_4

_Dash_cell_3_2_0 _____Dash_cell_3_2_1 U+005FDash_cell_3_2_2 low lineDash_cell_3_2_3 A spacing character usually showing a horizontal line below the baseline (i.e. a spacing underscore). It is commonly used within URLs and identifiers in programming languages, where a space-like separation between parts is desired but a real space is not appropriate. As usual for ASCII characters, this character shows a considerable range of glyphic variation; therefore, whether sequences of this character connect depends on the font used.Dash_cell_3_2_4
~Dash_cell_3_3_0 ~~~~~Dash_cell_3_3_1 U+007EDash_cell_3_3_2 tildeDash_cell_3_3_3 Used in programming languages (e.g. for the bitwise NOT operator in C and C++).
Its glyphic representation varies, therefore for punctuation in running text the use of more specific characters is preferred, see above.Dash_cell_3_3_4
Dash_cell_3_4_0 Dash_cell_3_4_1 U+00ADDash_cell_3_4_2 soft hyphenDash_cell_3_4_3 Used to indicate where a line may break, as in a compound word or between syllables.Dash_cell_3_4_4
¯Dash_cell_3_5_0 ¯¯¯¯¯Dash_cell_3_5_1 U+00AFDash_cell_3_5_2 macronDash_cell_3_5_3 A horizontal line positioned at cap height usually having the same length as U+005F _ LOW LINE. It is a spacing character, related to the diacritic mark "macron". A sequence of such characters is not expected to connect, unlike U+203E ‾ OVERLINE.Dash_cell_3_5_4
ˉDash_cell_3_6_0 ˉˉˉˉˉDash_cell_3_6_1 U+02C9Dash_cell_3_6_2 modifier letter macronDash_cell_3_6_3 A phonetic symbol (a line applied above the base letter).Dash_cell_3_6_4
ˍDash_cell_3_7_0 ˍˍˍˍˍDash_cell_3_7_1 U+02CDDash_cell_3_7_2 modifier letter low macronDash_cell_3_7_3 A phonetic symbol (a line applied below the base letter).Dash_cell_3_7_4
˗Dash_cell_3_8_0 ˗˗˗˗˗Dash_cell_3_8_1 U+02D7Dash_cell_3_8_2 modifier letter minus signDash_cell_3_8_3 A variant of the minus sign used in phonetics to mark a retracted or backed articulation. It may show small end-serifs.Dash_cell_3_8_4
˜Dash_cell_3_9_0 ˜˜˜˜˜Dash_cell_3_9_1 U+02DCDash_cell_3_9_2 small tildeDash_cell_3_9_3 A spacing clone of tilde diacritic mark.Dash_cell_3_9_4
Dash_cell_3_10_0 ‐‐‐‐‐Dash_cell_3_10_1 U+2010Dash_cell_3_10_2 hyphenDash_cell_3_10_3 The character that can be used to unambiguously represent a hyphen.Dash_cell_3_10_4
Dash_cell_3_11_0 ‑‑‑‑‑Dash_cell_3_11_1 U+2011Dash_cell_3_11_2 non-breaking hyphenDash_cell_3_11_3 Also called "hard hyphen", denotes a hyphen after which no word wrapping may apply. This is the case where the hyphen is part of a trigraph or tetragraph denoting a specific sound (like in the Swiss placename "S-chanf"), or where specific orthographic rules prevent a line break (like in German compounds of single-letter abbreviations and full nouns, as "E-Mail").Dash_cell_3_11_4
Dash_cell_3_12_0 ‒‒‒‒‒Dash_cell_3_12_1 U+2012Dash_cell_3_12_2 figure dashDash_cell_3_12_3 Similar to an en dash, but with exactly the width of a digit in the chosen typeface. The vertical position may also be centered on the zero digit, and thus higher than the en dash and em dash, which are appropriate for use with lowercase text in a vertical position similar to the hyphen. The figure dash may therefore be preferred to the en dash for indicating a closed range of values.Dash_cell_3_12_4
Dash_cell_3_13_0 ‾‾‾‾‾Dash_cell_3_13_1 U+203EDash_cell_3_13_2 overlineDash_cell_3_13_3 A character similar to U+00AF ¯ MACRON, but a sequence of such characters usually connects.Dash_cell_3_13_4
Dash_cell_3_14_0 ⁃⁃⁃⁃⁃Dash_cell_3_14_1 U+2043Dash_cell_3_14_2 hyphen bulletDash_cell_3_14_3 A short horizontal line used as a list bullet.Dash_cell_3_14_4
Dash_cell_3_15_0 ⁻⁻⁻⁻⁻Dash_cell_3_15_1 U+207BDash_cell_3_15_2 superscript minusDash_cell_3_15_3 Usually is used together with superscripted numbers.Dash_cell_3_15_4
Dash_cell_3_16_0 ₋₋₋₋₋Dash_cell_3_16_1 U+208BDash_cell_3_16_2 subscript minusDash_cell_3_16_3 Usually is used together with subscripted numbers.Dash_cell_3_16_4
Dash_cell_3_17_0 −−−−−Dash_cell_3_17_1 U+2212Dash_cell_3_17_2 minus signDash_cell_3_17_3 An arithmetic operation used in mathematics to represent subtraction or negative numbers. Its glyph is consistent with the glyph of the plus sign, and it is centred on the zero digit, unlike the ASCII hyphen-minus and U+2010 ‐ HYPHEN, that (especially the latter) are designed to match lowercase letters and are inconsistent with arithmetic operators.Dash_cell_3_17_4
Dash_cell_3_18_0 ∼∼∼∼∼Dash_cell_3_18_1 U+223CDash_cell_3_18_2 tilde operatorDash_cell_3_18_3 Used in mathematics. Ends not curved as much regular tilde. In TeX and LaTeX, this character can be expressed using the math mode command $\sim$.Dash_cell_3_18_4
Dash_cell_3_19_0 ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯Dash_cell_3_19_1 U+23AFDash_cell_3_19_2 horizontal line extensionDash_cell_3_19_3 Miscellaneous Technical (Unicode block). Can be used in sequences to generate long connected horizontal lines.Dash_cell_3_19_4
Dash_cell_3_20_0 ⏤⏤⏤⏤⏤Dash_cell_3_20_1 U+23E4Dash_cell_3_20_2 straightnessDash_cell_3_20_3 Miscellaneous Technical (Unicode block). Represents line straightness in technical context.Dash_cell_3_20_4
Dash_cell_3_21_0 ─────Dash_cell_3_21_1 U+2500Dash_cell_3_21_2 box drawings light horizontalDash_cell_3_21_3 Box-drawing characters. Several similar characters from one Unicode block used to draw horizontal lines.Dash_cell_3_21_4
Dash_cell_3_22_0 ➖➖➖➖➖Dash_cell_3_22_1 U+2796Dash_cell_3_22_2 heavy minus signDash_cell_3_22_3 Unicode symbols.Dash_cell_3_22_4
Dash_cell_3_23_0 ⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺Dash_cell_3_23_1 U+2E3ADash_cell_3_23_2 two-em dashDash_cell_3_23_3 Supplemental Punctuation.Dash_cell_3_23_4
Dash_cell_3_24_0 ⸻⸻⸻⸻⸻Dash_cell_3_24_1 U+2E3BDash_cell_3_24_2 three-em dashDash_cell_3_24_3 Supplemental Punctuation.Dash_cell_3_24_4
𐆑Dash_cell_3_25_0 𐆑𐆑𐆑𐆑𐆑Dash_cell_3_25_1 U+10191Dash_cell_3_25_2 roman uncia signDash_cell_3_25_3 Uncia (unit). A symbol for an ancient Roman unit of length.Dash_cell_3_25_4

Similar characters used in specific writing systems Dash_section_39

See also: Writing system Dash_sentence_153


U+058A ֊ ARMENIAN HYPHENDash_cell_4_0_0
U+06D4 ۔ ARABIC FULL STOPDash_cell_4_2_0
U+1806 ᠆ MONGOLIAN TODO SOFT HYPHEN is a hyphen from the Mongolian Todo alphabet.Dash_cell_4_5_0
U+2E0F ⸏ PARAGRAPHOS is an Ancient Greek textual symbol, usually displayed by a long low line.Dash_cell_4_7_0
U+2E17 ⸗ DOUBLE OBLIQUE HYPHEN is used in ancient Near-Eastern linguistics.Dash_cell_4_8_0
U+2E1A ⸚ HYPHEN WITH DIAERESIS is used mostly in German dictionaries and indicates umlaut of the stem vowel of a plural form.Dash_cell_4_9_0
U+2E40 ⹀ DOUBLE HYPHEN is used in the transcription of old German manuscripts.Dash_cell_4_10_0
U+3161 ㅡ HANGUL LETTER EU or U+1173 ᅳ HANGUL JUNGSEONG EU are Hangul letters used in Korean to denote the sound [ɯ].Dash_cell_4_12_0
U+301C 〜 WAVE DASH and U+3030 〰 WAVY DASH are wavy lines found in some East Asian character sets. Typographically, they have the width of one CJK character cell (fullwidth form), and follow the direction of the text, being horizontal for horizontal text, and vertical for columnar. They are used as dashes, and occasionally as emphatic variants of the katakana vowel extender mark.Dash_cell_4_13_0
U+30FC ー KATAKANA-HIRAGANA PROLONGED SOUND MARK, the Japanese chōonpu, is used in Japanese to indicate a long vowel.Dash_cell_4_14_0
U+4E00 一 , the Chinese character for "one", is used in various East Asian languages.Dash_cell_4_15_0
U+A4FE ꓾ LISU PUNCTUATION COMMA looks like a sequence of a hyphen and a full stop.Dash_cell_4_16_0
U+FE31 ︱ PRESENTATION FORM FOR VERTICAL EM DASH is a compatibility character for a vertical em dash used in East Asian typography.Dash_cell_4_17_0
U+FE32 ︲ PRESENTATION FORM FOR VERTICAL EN DASH is a compatibility character for a vertical en dash used in East Asian typography.Dash_cell_4_18_0
U+FE58 ﹘ SMALL EM DASH is a compatibility character for a small em dash used in East Asian typography.Dash_cell_4_19_0
U+FF5E ~ FULLWIDTH TILDE is a compatibility character for a wide tilde used in East Asian typography.Dash_cell_4_20_0
U+FE63 ﹣ SMALL HYPHEN-MINUS is a compatibility character for a small hyphen-minus used in East Asian typography.Dash_cell_4_21_0
U+FF0D - FULLWIDTH HYPHEN-MINUS is a compatibility character for a wide hyphen-minus used in East Asian typography.Dash_cell_4_22_0
U+10110 𐄐 AEGEAN NUMBER TENDash_cell_4_23_0
U+1104B 𑁋 BRAHMI PUNCTUATION LINEDash_cell_4_25_0
U+11052 𑁒 BRAHMI NUMBER ONEDash_cell_4_26_0
U+110BE 𑂾 KAITHI SECTION MARKDash_cell_4_27_0
U+1D360 𝍠 COUNTING ROD UNIT DIGIT ONEDash_cell_4_28_0

In other languages Dash_section_40

In many languages, such as Polish, the em dash is used as an opening quotation mark. Dash_sentence_154

There is no matching closing quotation mark; typically a new paragraph will be started, introduced by a dash, for each turn in the dialog. Dash_sentence_155

Corpus studies indicate that em dashes are more commonly used in Russian than in English. Dash_sentence_156

In Russian, the em dash is used for the present copula (meaning "am"/"is"/"are"), which is unpronounced in spoken Russian. Dash_sentence_157

In French, em or en dashes can be used as parentheses (brackets), but the use of a second dash as a closing parenthesis is optional. Dash_sentence_158

When a closing dash is not used, the sentence is ended with a period (full-stop) as usual. Dash_sentence_159

Dashes are, however, much less common than parentheses. Dash_sentence_160

In Spanish, em dashes can be used to mark off parenthetical phrases. Dash_sentence_161

Unlike in English, the em dashes are spaced like brackets, i.e., there is a space between main sentence and dash, but not between parenthetical phrase and dash. Dash_sentence_162

See also Dash_section_41


  • Leiden Conventions – rules to indicate conditions in texts (usage of "[— — —]")Dash_item_22_73
  • Signature dashes – signature delimiter in emails (usage of "-- " in a single line)Dash_item_22_74
  • Whitespace characters – spaces of equivalent sizes to dashesDash_item_22_75

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash.