en dash

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noun Printing.
a dash one en long.


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What is an en dash?

An en dash (–) is a punctuation mark often used to indicate relationships or connections.

The en dash resembles a horizontal line and is larger than a hyphen (-) but shorter than an em dash (—). Most computer typing programs list the en dash in a menu of special characters or will automatically insert it in place of a hyphen.

The en dash has specific uses that mean you will only see it occasionally. It is usually read as to or through, as in April–June, which we would read as April through June.

When it is used, the en dash is often used in a range of dates (the January 1–March 31 quarter), a range of numbers (pages 15–20, children ages 5–9), and scores (Germany defeated Brazil 7–1).

As well, the en dash is used to indicate relationships (the Lions–Tigers game) and conflicts (the Iran–Iraq War). And it’s used to indicate travel routes (the Atlanta–Chicago flight; the Main Street–12th Street bus).

The en dash does not usually have a space before or after it. Check out this article for tips on how to use the en dash.

Why is en dash important?

The term en dash has been used since at least the early 1800s. In typesetting, the terms en and em are units of measure for a single piece of type (such as a letter). The en dash is one en long, while the em dash is one em long.

The en dash can be easily confused with the hyphen or the em dash.

Of the three, the hyphen is the most common. It has a wide variety of uses, such as connecting prefixes to words or combining words that describe a noun (a pre-Internet world, late-night television).

The em dash is a commonly used punctuation mark that often indicates asides or dramatic pauses, as in We expect to take action on sustainability—and to see our profits increase as a result.

Did you know … ?

Different writing style guides use en dashes in different ways. Some, like the AP Stylebook, don’t recommend using en dashes at all. If you’re following a specific style guide, be sure to check its advice on using en dashes. If you’re not following a guide, just be consistent in how you use it in your writing.

What are real-life examples of en dash?

This chart explains the difference between an en dash and an em dash, according to AP Style.

BKA Content

The en dash is not a commonly used punctuation mark and is often replaced with a hyphen instead. Authors, writers, and journalists are more likely to at least know what this punctuation mark is called.


What other words are related to en dash?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

An en dash used in number ranges, such as 4–3.

How to use en dash in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for en dash

en dash

en rule

printing a dash (–) one en long
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012