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)

6

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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Comments

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What is six more than 8?

2017-01-23 17:17:41

Selena

Ha! Thank you. The time I was wasting trying to remember/figure out how to just leave a - in a cell was ridiculous.


2013-02-05 22:12:28

Yoree

Thank you for this tip! I just today had an issue involving hyphens, negative symbol and en dashes....

I had a lat/long value in one cell, that is effectively a text value

40.12345, -79.12345

When I decreased the column size and wrapped text, the cell appeared as follows

40.12345, -
79.12345

But if I replaced the hyphen with a en-dash (I typed Alt 0150 in the replace box), wrapping text gave me the desired result.

40.12345,
-79.12345

Thanks for the handy tip!


2013-02-04 23:04:49

Jim

Thanks, Jerrold. I must have some configuration issue on my laptop. I'll check Lenovo's help for why that isn't working.


2013-02-02 11:39:47

Jerrold

Notice that on your laptop there are numbers printed on the keys u,i,o, and j,k,l and m. Just like the numeric keypad.

Hold down the Fn and the Alt key (at the same time) and use these numbers to get to your ASCII characters. For instance, hold down, Fn and Alt key and key in m,j,i,m. That will give you the en-dash.


2013-02-02 10:16:00

Jim

Since I work on a laptop, it appears that I cannot use the keyboard to produce the en dash and em dash. I tried the number keys at the top of the keyboard, and the alternate number keys embedded in the keyboard (which I thought was accessed by holding down the Fn key, about which I appear to be mistaken). The Insert Symbol menu command will have to do, even though it is a little tedious to find the characters in the dialog box. Does anyone out there know how to use the keyboard on a laptop to get the ASCII character codes to work?


2013-02-02 09:08:38

Fred Burg

Grammatically there's a difference between a hyphen and a dash. It should be noted that the "dash" on the keyboard is used as a hyphen in hypenated words. Like good-bye.


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