The em dash – also called a long dash – is an extremely versatile punctuation mark. Figuring out how to type the dash symbol on your keyboard can be a little tricky, however, because it’s simply not there.
You can use em dashes to indicate a pause or an interruption. Few people know that this amazing punctuation mark has a long history. The > symbol (diple), used in Ancient Greece, is a direct precursor of this long dash.
It’s called an em dash because the dash symbol traditionally has the same width as an upper case letter M in the same font.
Some people type two hyphens (‐‐) to replace the long dash, but creating an em dash looks more professional. So, how do we type an em dash?
Whether you’re using the em dash for the first time or have recently switched to a new operating system, learning the relevant keyboard shortcut is key.
Table of Contents
- Copy and Paste the Em Dash
- How to Type the Em Dash on a Windows Keyboard
- How to Type the Em Dash on a Mac Keyboard
- How to Type the Em Dash in Microsoft Word
- How to Type the Em Dash in Google Docs
- How to Type the Em Dash Using Character Map
- How to Type the Em Dash on Your Android Phone
- How to Type the Em Dash on the iPhone or iPad
- How to Type the Em Dash as HTML Code
- Final Thoughts
Copy and Paste the Em Dash
In a hurry or don’t have the time to learn keyboard shortcuts? No worries, just click the box below to copy the em dash!
After copying, go back to your document and paste the symbol by hitting Ctrl + V on your keyboard. You can also right-click and select Paste.
If you’re on mobile, simply long press and choose Paste.
How to Type the Em Dash on a Windows Keyboard
Every computer user has a few keyboard shortcuts up their sleeves. From copying text to printing documents, keyboard shortcuts are definitely a time-saver.
Typing the long dash can be done rather quickly using shortcuts, too, but instead of the usual Ctrl key for common operations such as copy-pasting, the Alt key is used. Hence, these keyboard shortcuts are often called “alt codes.”
To type the em dash in Windows, use the keyboard shortcut or alt code Alt + 0151.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for typing the em dash symbol on the Windows keyboard:
- In your document, place the insertion point (the blinking vertical bar) where you want to insert the symbol.
- Activate the numeric keypad by tapping the Num Lock key just above it. This keypad is usually on the right side of the Windows keyboard.
- Press and hold down the Alt key.
- While pressing the Alt key, tap the 0, 1, 5 and 1 keys in quick succession on the numeric keypad.
- The em dash (—) should appear in your document.
This keyboard shortcut works with most Windows applications such as Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, and Adobe Photoshop. If not, there might be an issue with your keyboard.
What if your keyboard doesn’t have a numeric keypad (laptops come to mind)? Have no fear, because there are plenty of other ways to type the long dash. In fact, Microsoft Word automatically produces the em dash when you type two hyphens in your document. More on that later.
How to Type the Em Dash on a Mac Keyboard
Mac users definitely have it easy compared to Windows users, as far as keyboard shortcuts are concerned. Mac users don’t have to deal with a numeric keypad and type a string of random numbers. Keyboard shortcuts in Mac are pretty straightforward and easy to remember, as the em dash shows.
You see, all you have to do is to type Option + Shift + – (minus) and the em dash will appear. No bunch of numbers to remember!
If you have a hard time typing the em dash this way, just follow these steps:
- Click in your document to place the insertion point, which is where the symbol will be inserted.
- Press the Option, Shift and – (minus) keys at the same time.
- The em dash (—) should appear in your document. If not, repeat the procedure.
How to Type the Em Dash in Microsoft Word
As we’ve mentioned, Microsoft Word automatically replaces two hyphens with the em dash (—) by default. If you tried it but that doesn’t work, maybe you did it the wrong way. Here’s how you use Word’s autocorrect feature to type the em dash:
- Type a word, without any space after it.
- Type two hyphens (‐‐), without any spaces before or after them.
- Type another word.
- Type a space after that word.
- Word will automatically replace the hyphens with a long dash.
So, if you type word‐‐word, it will become word—word. It looks like two words connected together, so feel free to add spaces surrounding the em dash.
Another – albeit more complicated – way to type the em dash is through Word’s symbol insertion tool. Here you can select any symbol or special character for quick placement in your document.
First, click the Insert tab on the menu bar at the top.
Look at the right side of the menu and click Symbol, and then click More Symbols.
The Symbol dialog window now appears. Go ahead and click the Special Characters tab.
The em dash (—) should be the first character in the list. Otherwise, select it to highlight it.
Finally, click Insert to place the symbol in your document.
How to Type the Em Dash in Google Docs
If you use Google Docs (seriously, who doesn’t?), then you’ll be delighted to know that typing the em dash is just a matter of typing three hyphens, one after the other.
Try it! Just type three hyphens (‐‐‐) and Google Docs will automatically convert it into an em dash (—). Typing two hyphens (‐‐) will give you the shorter en dash (–) instead.
If this method doesn’t work, you can try inserting the long dash using the character insertion tool in Google Docs.
Start by clicking the Insert tab on the menu bar.
Thousands of symbols and special characters are now available at your disposal. So how do you find the em dash among the sea of symbols?
Click the “Symbol” dropdown box and change it to “Punctuation.” After that, click the other dropdown box and select “Dash/Connector.”
Now you can insert the em dash to your document by simply clicking it.
Do keep in mind that the em dash (—) is a little bit longer than the en dash (–), so don’t be confused by the two. In any case, Google Docs will show the name of the symbol as you move the pointer over it.
How to Type the Em Dash Using Character Map
You probably haven’t heard of the Character Map, and who can blame you? This tiny software may be unknown to many, but it’s a powerful tool for those who use symbols frequently. It comes bundled with most Windows installations, so you don’t need to download and install it.
Use the Character Map if none of the previous methods work, like for example, your keyboard has broken or missing keys.
To launch the Character Map, click the Start button (the Windows button at the bottom-left corner of the screen) and scroll down the list of applications. Navigate to Windows Accessories and click Character Map.
The Character Map is now ready for use. Locate the em dash (—) symbol and when you find it, click it to highlight it. After that, click Select and then Copy.
Return to your document and paste the symbol by right-clicking and choosing Paste. You can also press Ctrl + V.
Can’t find the symbol? Search for it by checking the “Advanced view” box, typing “em dash” and then clicking Search. The symbol should appear immediately, ready for copying.
How to Type the Em Dash on Your Android Phone
Typing the em dash is not a problem on Android because the native keyboard app Gboard fully supports the symbol. You only need to know where it is.
Assuming that the virtual keyboard is already active, tap the ?123 key to access the numbers and symbols. Long press the dash or hyphen (-) key until a popup appears with additional symbols. While still pressing, slide your finger over the longest dash which is the em dash. Release, and the symbol will be inserted in your document or app.
How to Type the Em Dash on the iPhone or iPad
Typing dashes on iOS devices is almost identical to that on Android, which is good news because you don’t have to learn something new.
To insert the em dash on the iPhone or iPad, tap the 123 key and then long press the dash or hyphen (-) key. Slide your finger over the longest dash, and then release to insert it in your document.
How to Type the Em Dash as HTML Code
Dabbling in code? Insert the em dash in your webpages by using the HTML entities ‐ or ‐.
With thousands of symbols and special characters in existence, it’s literally impossible to fit them all in a standard computer keyboard. Fortunately, keyboard shortcuts and other typing methods make it possible to type symbols such as the em dash and the infinity symbol despite this shortcoming.
Now that you’ve learned how to type the em dash, make full use of it in your studies or profession. If you can’t remember the keyboard shortcut to type the symbol, you can always copy it from this page.