Saturday, July 14, 2007

Typing Tip: How to Make an Em Dash

This tip will probably be of interest to only a tiny percentage of nitpickers people, but on the off chance I'm not the only detail-obsessed nut out there, I offer this tidbit.

In printing, an "em dash" is the term used to describe the longish dash that sets off a word or phrase within a sentence—like this!

Since typewriters didn't have an em-dash key, two hyphens became the standard substitute--like this.

Either way is considered correct, nowadays. But if you like the look of the em dash, you can make it by pressing the shift, option, and hyphen keys at the same time. Like—this—! Ooh, how very dashing!

Emily Dickinson would approve.

25 comments:

Christine M said...

Thanks for that tip, I usually count on Word to auto-correct two dashes to an em dash for me - and if it doesn't I resort to copy-pasting.

KC said...

Thank you!! I use an em dash all the time with two dashes. Now I can make it look pretty!

Chanya said...

Hello. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I was wondering how you created the green area between the main body and the sidebar at this site: http://momswhoblog.blogspot.com/. I've got a colored background outside the main and sidebar but not between the two. Here's my attempt: http://colorstruck.blogspot.com.

Thanking you in advance,

Chanya

Love2Learn Mom said...

Chanya - we started out with a template that had the post area and sidebar separate from each other.

You can add borders around each section (though it sometimes ends up looking lop-sided), but I don't know how to just create a line in the middle..

Suzanne Temple said...

My keypad won't allow this so if I want the nice clean solid line em dash I would have to place them in HTML where appropriate. The HTML for an em dash is...



I hadn't ever thought of copy-pasting. That's smart because I wind up never making them the way I like them best.

Cornelius said...

I have just started my own blog a little over a week ago. I use the em dash all the time, except that I don't know how to type it! So, as you have correctly pointed out here, I use 2 hyphens, which is not pretty at all.

I asked a friend if it's possible to type the em dash in the blog, and she directed me here. And I am pleased to get this tip!

But there is just one more problem; I am an idiot when it comes to computers (I don't know what was I thinking starting my own blog!), but -- and this is embarrassing -- which one is the OPTION key?

Thanks.

4under3 said...

Ohhhh. I just found you and am so excited I did. I'll be bookmarking your site. Thanks for all your great tips.

Stimey said...

Fabulous! I've been using html code to do this and it's laborious. Now I don't have to! Yay and thank you!

Marty said...

yes, where is the Option key?

Katherine said...

could the option key is on a mac??? Would the FN button on the hp be the same???

Lincoln said...

I cannot find the way to make an "em dash" on my Sony PC. Where is the option key?

Carter Nitty Gritty said...

Yes please, what is the option key??

Marty said...

This is FIVE people who've asked what the option key is... And the first question was nearly a year ago. I don't think we're going to get an answer. Apparently, this is an abandoned blog. The last post was in November of 2007!!!
There are some great tips on here, but don't expect an answer.

So no one is dumb for asking. A lot of other people don't know what it is either!

Love2Learn Mom said...

Well, it's not totally abandoned. I'm still reading all the comments, but I'm afraid I don't know what the "option" key is (the guess that it's found on a Mac seems likely to me).

We moms have all gotten too busy. Glad you're enjoying the content for what it's worth...

Michael said...

I'm a PC. And I use MS word. Which version? I do not know. Am I lazy? Yes. If you are a PC, and use Word. Press Ctrl+Alt+Dash (from your number pad). Voila! I've no clue what the hell an "option" key is, I urge you all to smash your face into your keyboard if you spent time searching for this myth of a key.

Rick said...

Here's a solution for when you might be using other programs (besides Word):

"To form an em dash on most PCs, type the first word, then hold down the ALT key while typing 0151 on the numerical pad on the right side of your keyboard. Then type the second word." It worked fine for me. :-)

lostravenx said...

Thanks Rick! That's exactly what we needed. ALT 0151 worked like a charm.

Cheers,

-Shawn

Angela said...

Michael and Rick thanks a bunch to both of you gentlemen! Michael you are too funny!

I went searching for "how to write the em dash" so I can incorporate it into my post this morning.

Thanks all. Nice site.

Jon said...

I don't know why this has been so excruciating. Yes, the Option key is a key on Mac keyboards. It's the equivalent of the Alt key, but it works quite differently, notably in a number of quicker and easier ways to type various characters.

Gerald D. Swick said...

Since several readers seem interested in using the em dash, some may want to use an en dash as well. Its length is between that of a hyphen and an em dash, and it is most often used to separate dates, such as 1885–87, and sports scores or similar numbers: My girl's soccer team thumped their opponent 5–1. On a Mac, use Option+Hyphen; I assume that on a PC that would be Alt+Hypen. I'm a Web editor working in Wordpress, so I know the Mac keyboard shortcut will work in Wordpress as well as in Microsoft Word. However, I see in Preview that the en dashes were converted to hyphens on this blog. I hope this helps. Gotta dash now.

ALLSovereign said...

— oh so cool —

Carla Gade said...

Finally! I've been looking for this everywhere. Thank you.

Blessings,
Carla
http://writingtodistraction.blogspot.com

The Author said...

Thank you so much. I am one of those nitpickers, so this has helped immensely.

The Author said...

Thank you so much. I am one of those nitpickers, so this has helped immensely. And thanks for keeping your blog alive for us to discover.

twilles said...

thanks, I wish I had known this back when I was writing my English 12 final and had to copy and paste from the reading material—ridiculous.