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