What are dashes? En Dash and Em Dash. A dash (—) is a punctuation mark with several uses. A dash should not be confused with a hyphen (-) which is used as a joiner in compound adjectives (e.g., first-class restaurant) and compound nouns (e.g., water-bottle).
- An em dash can be used to credit a quotation.
- An en dash can be used between time and dates.
- An em dash can replace three dots when used as a pause for effect.
- Em dashes can be used as parentheses.
Here are the four main dash-like characters ordered longest to shortest:
|Name||Punctuation||How To Get One|
|em dash||—||Ctl + Alt + minus (on the numeric pad)|
|minus sign||−||minus (on the numeric pad)|
|hyphen||–||– (the key to the right of “0”)|
|en dash||–||Ctl + minus (on the numeric pad)|
I never knew how to use an em dash properly until about 4 years ago. A member of my writing group gave me a simple rule to follow:
Change your direction–like this–and if you want, come back again.