Using Dashes and Hyphens in Your Writing

Maybe you’ve used hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes interchangeably in your writing. Or maybe you’re seeing some inconsistencies as you edit someone else’s writing, and you need some clarification. You’re in the right place to learn how to use dashes and hyphens correctly in your writing!

Let’s discuss what hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes are, as well as what they’re used for.

Hyphens (-) are used to combine words or to split a word across a line.

Our high-quality service ensures your project will be maintained through the contract term.

En dashes (–) are often used to replace the word “to” or “through” in dates or ranges. The en dash can also be used to separate the title of an item from its description in a list. This punctuation always has a space on either side of it.

Take a look at pages 27 – 35 for the major changes.

Software – Our firm uses the most cutting-edge software applications available to manage your project from start to finish.

Em dashes (—) are used to set off part of a sentence from the rest, often for emphasis. This mark never has spaces around it.

Colorado’s state department of transportation—which is known for its innovation in using alternative approaches to major projects—is currently considering pursuing design-build for the reconstruction.

Now you’re equipped to use these important punctuation marks in your writing and editing work. Stay tuned for tips on using these marks correctly in the two most common document creation applications, Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign.