Hyphens and Dashes

When we need a dash in our content, most of us simply use the minus key for a hyphen. This is not always the correct choice – try to remember the following so that your typography stands up to close scrutiny.

Blog article by James Newcombe. Originally posted 03 April 2013.




This is a short dash used to show a break in a word as it goes onto another line, or to join two words together (known as a hyphenated compound) such as “well-being”.

Hyphens are generally used as a solution for all dashing needs, which unfortunately is not always correct.

En Dash

en dash

– / &#ndash;

Longer than a Hyphen, the En Dash will have the same width as the uppercase N in your chosen font. You would use an En Dash instead of a comma (with a space either side) or to join two numbers together, such as in an address: 18–19 Union Road.

Em Dash

em dash

— / &#mdash;

This is the same width as an uppercase M. An Em Dash should be used to replace commas, semi colons, colons and brackets, to indicate emphasis, interruption or a break in thought.