Dashes and Hyphens

Did you know em dashes ( — ), en dashes ( – ) and hyphens (-) aren’t inter­change­able? They each have different purposes. But there’s one rule that applies to all three: no matter what, never add spaces to either side of your dash or hyphen.

One of Hudl’s favorite pieces of punctuation is the em dash. It’s the long dash you can put in place of nearly every other piece of punctuation.

The pause created by an em dash can serve a few different purposes:

  • It can connect two separate, but related and complete thoughts (a semicolon also does this).
  • It can create a dramatic effect before a punchy close.
  • A pair can frame an aside in the middle of a sentence, like parentheses or commas. 

The game—5 p.m.

Don’t add an em dash between two incomplete thoughts.

The game is at 5 p.m.—don’t be late.

Do use it to complete your train of thought.

Within the product, em dashes should only be used in wordy modals or longer blocks of text.

To create an em dash on a Mac, press the shift, option and hyphen keys. On a PC, hold down Alt, then type 0151, then let go of Alt.

Use the shorter en dash in place of to” or through.” It’s the dash we use to represent number ranges.

  • The session will run from 1 – 3 p.m.
  • These are the results from FY19 – 20.

To create an en dash on a Mac, press the option and hyphen keys. On a PC, hold down Alt, then type 0150, then let go of Alt. 

In the case of numbers, use hyphens to separate non-inclusive digits, like a phone number or Social Security number. 

With words, you can use a hyphen to make one word out of two. Hyphenate two (or more!) words into a compound adjective when they come before the noun they modify:

  • High-quality video
  • Out-of-season scrimmage

No need to hyphenate adjectives that come after the noun:

  • The video is high quality.
  • That scrimmage was out of season.
Last Updated: 11 May 2020 at 5:20pm CDT