Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Inserting Different Dashes.

Inserting Different Dashes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 2, 2015)

Typographers use different dashes for different purposes. The only difference between the dashes is their width. For instance, you get one type of dash when you press on the minus key—it is a dash that is very narrow. A longer dash is called an en dash, because it is the same width as a lowercase n. An en-dash is typically used to denote ranges of numbers. Wider still is the em-dash, which is just as wide as a lowercase m. The em-dash is typically used in sentences, as a dash between clauses.

To insert an en-dash in your document, hold down the Alt key and type 0150 on the numeric keypad; an em-dash is produced by holding down the Alt key and typing 0151. (Make sure you type the numbers on the numeric keypad. If you type them using any other numeric keys, it won't work.) You could also use the Special Characters tab of the Symbol dialog box to add the dashes.

You may be familiar with using em- and en-dashes from working with Word. They work the same way in Excel. The only caveat is that when you use special dashes (as opposed to a regular minus sign), Excel automatically treats the information in your cell as text.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2118) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Inserting Different Dashes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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