So I learned an important lesson this week while doing a design job and that was: there are three different types of dashes in the punctuation world. I may or may have not known this. It sounds vaguely familiar but it seems like it is important to the world of type and hopefully now I will remember to use them correctly in the future.
First the hyphen. It’s probably the most common of the three and it’s most definitely the one use the most incorrectly. The hyphen is the shortest of the three and found on the keyboard next to the zero. It is used to break words in half that occur at the end of a sentence or in compound words. The HTML value for the hyphen is -.
The em-dash (see what happened there… compound word = hyphen). It is the longest of the bunch and it used to throw in a break of thought in a sentence. Use ALT + 0151 on a PC or shift + option + the minus key on a Mac. For HTML —.
The en-dash falls in the middle of the three in terms of length and is used for ranges of values. Use ALT + 0150 on a PC or shift + option + the dash key on a Mac. The HTML value for an en-dash is –.
Dashes my vary from typeface to typeface as shown below.