April 22: Em dash vs en dash

Here's what they are — and how to use them.

Source: Grammarly
Published: February 2017

Em dash vs en dash

The em dash (—) is used in replacement of other punctuation such as a comma, colon, or parentheses. It expresses an emphatic pause and is commonly a less formal way to connect two clauses. 

Em dash example:

“He is afraid of two things—spiders and senior prom.”

The en dash (–) often indicates a span of time or a range of numbers. It can commonly be read as “to” or “through.” En dashes are also used when the modifier is a two-word phrase. 

En dash example:

“The Nobel Prize–winning author will be reading pages 1–25 from her book.”

Bonus: The easiest keyboard shortcut is to press Alt + Shift + Minus for an em dash and Alt + Minus for an en dash.


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