What is the Difference between the Hyphen, En dash and Em dash?
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In academic writing, writers often tend to mix up using the hyphen (-), the en dash (–) and the em dash (—). If you take a closer look, you would see that the hyphen is the shortest, the em dash is the longest, and the en dash is longer than the hyphen but slightly narrower than the em dash. They each have their own roles.
The hyphen is generally used to join words that are part of a compound construction and have a combined meaning, or in hyphenated names. For example: long-term, pick-me-up, self-restraint, and Zeta-Jones. A hyphen can be inserted using a keyboard, and is found under the minus sign to the right of the 0 key.
En dash (–)
The en dash is equal to the width of the letter n, hence its name. It is used to define a range of values, dates or time. For example: 2015–2021, 23–35 and 9pm–5pm. This punctuation symbol is not found on a standard keyboard, but most word processors such as MS Word make it possible to insert them into a text document.
Em dash (—)
The em dash is equal to the width of the letter m. It is used said to be a glorified comma, and can be used instead of a commo, parentheses or colons to stress a certain point. For example: The researcher—the luckiest one in the world—won the paper of the year award. The em dash is also not found on a standard keyboard, but most word processors have a function to allow its insertion into a text document.