One of the most useful punctuation marks you can use in your writing is the em dash, sometimes called an m dash or a long dash. This style of the dash is longer than a regular hyphen (-) or en dash (–), but it’s shorter than the width of an entire line of text, and it’s used to show thought separation or break sentence flow to add emphasis to what comes before and after it. There are several ways to insert an em dash in Microsoft Word, so let’s take a look at four of them that are easy to remember and apply.
The plain old three-key method
You can insert an em dash in a Microsoft Word document by using the three-key method. First, type two hyphens (–). Next, press the spacebar. Finally, type another hyphen (-). This will create an em dash. Alternatively, you can use Alt+0151 on your keyboard or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+0 for those with Word 2010 or later versions. You can also find this punctuation mark under Insert->Symbol in the menu bar of your document. The two methods are illustrated below:
If you don’t have any of these tools at hand and need to insert an em dash quickly and without resorting to Google Docs, use type -type instead of – and –. Remember that it’s important not to mix up the hyphens with dashes as they are used for different purposes within a sentence; be sure you’re inserting an em dash before using a second one!
The fancy way – with ⌥ Opt Shift M
Did you know that you can insert an em dash in a Microsoft Word document using a keyboard shortcut? It’s true! Just press ⌥ Opt Shift M on your Mac (or Alt Shift M on Windows) and voilà—an em dash appears. The no-brainer way – with the Ctrl + keystroke: You can also type an em dash by pressing Ctrl + – on the Mac or Ctrl + – on Windows. The two-key combo way – with the Alt key: If you want to type an em dash without using a keyboard shortcut, just hold down the Alt key while typing 0 followed by -, then release both keys.
The fancy way – with Format → Font → Insert Special Character… (Mac)
One way to insert an em dash in a Word document is by using the Format menu. To do this, first highlight the text where you want to insert the em dash. Next, go to the Format menu and select Font. In the Font window, click on the Insert Special Character tab. Finally, select the em dash from the list of characters and click Insert. You will now see your em dash inserted into your sentence.
The quick and dirty way – with shortcuts: Another way to insert an em dash in a Word document is by using keyboard shortcuts (mac). To do this, press the Option key while typing the letter d. Release the key after you type it. You should now see your em dash inserted into your sentence. The weirdly complex but easy-to-remember way – with shortcut keys: A third way to insert an em dash in a Word document is by using keyboard shortcuts (Windows). To do this, hold down Alt+0150 (on the number pad) at the same time as pressing Enter.
The fancy way – with Control + Alt + D (Windows)
The em dash is a versatile punctuation mark that can be used in a variety of ways. Here are four ways you can use an em dash in Microsoft Word 1) Double-click on the spacebar and type your text; then, click outside the text box and drag it to the desired location. Press Enter or click on outside the text box again when done typing.
2) Select Insert > Symbol > More Symbols, select Special Characters and find Em dash. Copy and paste into your document wherever you want it.
3) Press Control + Alt + D (Windows). Place cursor at beginning of line, press Alt + D twice (or hold down Alt key and press D two times). Place cursor at end of line, press Alt + D again (or hold down Alt key and press D one more time). Now all three dashes should appear between your words.