Insert an Em or En Dash in Microsoft Word using the Ribbon or Keyboard Shortcuts

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated February 22, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 or 365 (Windows)

You can insert an em dash or en dash in a Microsoft Word document using the Insert Symbol command or by using keyboard shortcuts. An em dash is a long dash which is the width of the letter m. An en dash is the width of the letter n.

The dashes appear as follows:

  • Em dash (—)
  • En dash (–)
  • Dash or hyphen (-)

Recommended article: How to Keep Text Together in Microsoft Word

1. Inserting an em or en dash using Insert Symbol

You can use the Insert Symbol command to insert special characters in Word documents.

To insert an em or en dash using Insert Symbol:

  1. Click where you want to insert the em dash or en dash.
  2. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Symbols group, click Symbol. A drop-down menu appears.
  4. Click More Symbols. A dialog box appears. In Word, there are two tabs at the top of the dialog box.
  5. Click the Special Characters tab.
  6. Click Em Dash or En Dash.
  7. Click Insert.
  8. Click Close.

Below is the Insert Symbol dialog box in Word:

Insert Symbol dialog box in Microsoft Word with copyright, trademark and registered trademark symbols.

2. Inserting an em or en dash using Ctrl and keyboard shortcuts

To insert an em dash, click where you want to insert the em dash and then press Ctrl + Alt + – (minus sign on the numeric keypad).

To insert an en dash, click where you want to insert the en dash and then press Ctrl + – (minus sign on the numeric keypad).

If this doesn’t work, press NumLock on the numeric keypad.

3. Inserting an em or en dash using AutoFormat as you type

There are built-in options that are turned on by default in AutoCorrect in the AutoFormat as you type settings.

To insert an em dash using AutoFormat as you type:

  1. Type a word with no space after it.
  2. Type two dashes or hyphens with no space between or after them.
  3. Type another word.
  4. Press the Spacebar.

To insert an en dash using AutoFormat as you type:

  1. Type a word.
  2. Press the Spacebar.
  3. Type a single dash or hyphen.
  4. Press the spacebar.
  5. Type another word.
  6. Press the Spacebar.

4. Inserting an em or en dash using Alt and keyboard shortcuts

You can also use the Alt key in combination with a sequence of numbers of insert an em dash or en dash.

To insert an em dash, click where you want to insert the em dash and then press and hold Alt and then type 8212 on the numeric keypad.

To insert an en dash, click where you want to insert the en dash and then press and hold Alt and then type 8211 on the numeric keypad.

If this doesn’t work, press NumLock on the numeric keypad.

The Alt keyboard shortcuts will work in multiple programs but the other shortcuts will work only in Microsoft Word.

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Summary
How to Insert or Type an Em Dash in Word (4 Ways with Shortcuts)
Article Name
How to Insert or Type an Em Dash in Word (4 Ways with Shortcuts)
Description
You can insert an em or en dash in a Microsoft Word document using the Insert Symbol command or by using keyboard shortcuts.
Author
Publisher Name
Avantix Learning

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