[INFOGRAPHIC] Cracking the Punctuation Code: Hyphens, En Dashes, & Em Dashes

Idea Grove
2 min readJun 14, 2016

It’s easy to get tripped up on grammar and punctuation. To use a comma or not to use a comma? Is a colon necessary here? We’ve all been there. That’s why the Idea Grove content team will be putting out a series of posts on grammar and punctuation best practices. Here’s our first.

Here are a few more facts about these three types of hyphenation:

  • When using a hyphen, an en dash or an em dash, you do not put a space either before or after them. The only exception is when using a hanging hyphen (i.e. “nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature”).
  • The en and em dash get their names from the letter that correlates with their widths. The en dash is as wide as the letter “N,” whereas the em dash is the width of the letter “M”.
  • Most people weren’t aware of the differences between the en and em dash until the advent of word processors. Software such as Word enabled us to use these marks of punctuation that had previously only been available to professional printers.

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