To everyones the untrained eye dashes look the same. However, dashes are not created equal.

Dashes come in five flavours. The hyphen (which can also be used as a figure dash and minus sign), the em-dash and the en-dash.

The Different Types of Dashes and How to Use Them Correctly In Your Writing

Symbol Name Example
- Hyphen two-part adjective
Figure dash (000) 111‒2222
Minus sign two-part adjective
En dash Monday–Friday 09:30–16:00
Em dash Punctuation mark

The En-Dash and Em-Dash are named because they match the width of the letter “n” and letter “m” on an typewriter.

The Hyphen

A hyphen is a dash that is used to connect two words that are intimately related to one another.

Examples include words like one-third or tax-free.

Hyphens can connect certain compound words like mass-produced. However, many compound words are considered closed and do not require hyphenation.

The hyphen is also used where numbers are grouped together.

For example a telephone number like 0800-123-4567 would use the hyphens symbol.

The hyphen symbol can also used to denote a minus sign.

The En–Dash

The en-dash is longer than the hyphen.

It is used to connect items related to one another by distance. It can be used to specify ranges where other items, words or numbers not mentioned between the first and last entries.

For example August–October or page 101–202.

The Em—Dash

The em-dash is the longest of the dashes.

It can be used for parentheses — to add an additional thought to a sentence — or break up a long sentence with several commas to make it easier to follow.

This post was originally written to test markdown on our updated blog platform.