Writing Tip: Dashes vs. Hyphens

For those who requested a post on dash v hyphen, here’s an excellent, straightforward explanation from writer and fellow corporate lackey Michelle Proulx. Did I just say “corporate lackey” out loud?

Michelle Proulx - Author

In today’s Writing Tip, we’re going to talk about dashes (—) and hyphens (-). This is a pretty intense topic, so buckle up and prepare yourself for some extreme learning.


These cute little guys come in two varieties: em dashes (—) and en dashes (–). Can’t tell the difference? Em dashes are slightly longer. I know it doesn’t look like it, but trust me! I’m a professional. (God help us all.)

So these are the ones you use in lieu of brackets and commas to separate out phrases in a sentence (presumably there are other uses as well). I’ve seen em and en dashes used interchangeably (apparently en dashes are often used in date ranges, i.e. 1994–1998), but I favor em dashes, mostly because I like how they look. Anyway, here’s an example of dashes in action:

The awesome thing about dashes—and here I’m going to get technical, so…

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7 responses to “Writing Tip: Dashes vs. Hyphens

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