How to Insert an En Dash in Microsoft Word

You can easily insert an en dash in Microsoft Word.
It is used to show a range (or span) of:

  • numbers (e.g., 11–51)
  •  time (e.g., 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.)
  •  distance (e.g., 15–18 Main Street)

It is also used between words of equal weight in a compound adjective, for example, author–date citation.
There are several ways to insert an en dash in Microsoft Word. They are to:

  • use your keyboard if it has a numeric keypad (useful if you insert the en dash often).
    This is my favorite.
    However, a laptop does not have a numeric keypad. You will have to use one of the following methods.
  • insert the special character symbol available from the Insert menu in Microsoft Word (useful if you insert the en dash infrequently).
  • use a shortcut key when your keyboard does not have a numeric keypad, such as on a laptop (useful if you insert the en dash often).
  • use the Autocorrect function  in Microsoft Word (useful if you insert the en dash often and on any keyboard).
  • a special code in the Word document (for those that like codes).

Work out which way is best for you and keep to it.


Insert an En Dash in Microsoft Word Using the Keyboard (Numeric Keypad Only)

You can insert an en dash as long as your keyboard has a numeric keypad.
Standalone keyboards will have a numeric keypad. Keyboards built into the computer, as in laptops, will not have a numeric keypad.

To insert the en dash:

  1. Move the cursor to the position where you want the en dash.
  2. Press and hold down the Ctrl key.
  3. Press the minus key on the numeric keypad (see Figure 1).
Showing the Ctrl key and the Minus sign key on the numeric keypadFigure 1: Position of the Ctrl and Minus Keys

The en dash will be inserted in your document.


Insert an En Dash in Microsoft Word Using Special Characters

You can insert an en dash in your document using Insert from the Microsoft Word ribbon.

To insert an en dash:

  1. Move the cursor to the position in the document where you want the en dash.
  2. Select the Insert tab.
  3. Select Symbol in the Symbols group (see Figure 2).
Select the Insert tab, then move mouse to SymbolFigure 2: Select the Symbol Command in the Insert Tab
  1. Select More Symbols which appears in the popup window (see Figure 3).
Select More Symbols to display the Symbol windowFigure 3: Select More Symbols to Display Special Characters
  1. Select the Special Characters tab (see Figure 4).
  2. Select En dash from the list.
  3. Select Insert.
  4. Select En Dash from the special characters listFigure 4: En Dash in the List of Special Characters

    The en dash will be inserted in your document.


    Insert an En Dash in Microsoft Word Using a Shortcut Key

    You can make a shortcut key to insert an en dash. The keyboard does not need to have a numeric keypad.
    You need to set it up once, and then it will be available whenever you use Microsoft Word.
    To create the shortcut key:

    1. Move the cursor to the position in the document where you want the en dash.
    2. Select the Insert tab.
    3. Select Symbol in the Symbols group (see Figure 2 above).
    1. Select More Symbols which appears in the popup window (see Figure 3 above).
    1. Select the Special Characters tab (see Figure 4 above).
    2. Select En dash from the list.
    3. Select the Shortcut Key.
      DO NOT select Insert
    4. Select the Press new shortcut key: box and enter your shortcut key (see Figure 5).
    5. Select Assign.
    6. Make a shortcut key for an en dashFigure 5: Construct a Shortcut Key for an En Dash

      Please note the following:

      • Your shortcut key may already be assigned to another command.
        The "Currently assigned to:" label will indicate if it is assigned to something else, or unassigned.
        You can assign the shortcut key to an already assigned function, but it will overwrite it.
        This may be okay with you.
      • To make the shortcut key always available, save the changes in Normal.dotm (the default). This is the default template for every document.
        To make the shortcut key only for the current document, click on the down arrow in "Save changes in:" and select the document name.

      From now on, press the shortcut key whenever you want to insert an en dash.

      Insert an En Dash in Microsoft Word Using AutoCorrect

      You can setup an AutoCorrect entry to insert an en dash.
      You assign the en dash to a set of characters, for example, en*. The en dash will replace en* every time you type those characters in. 

      To create the AutoCorrect entry:

      1. Move the cursor to the position in the document where you want the en dash.
      2. Select the Insert tab.
      3. Select Symbol in the Symbols group (see Figure 2 above).
      1. Select More Symbols which appears in the popup window (see Figure 3 above).
      1. Select the Special Characters tab (see Figure 4 above).
      2. Select En dash from the list.
      3. Select AutoCorrect.
        DO NOT select Insert
      4. Select the Replace box and enter the characters that will be replaced by the en dash (see Figure 6).
      5. Select Add.
      6. Select OK.
      Create an autocorrect entry for an en dashFigure 6: Create an Autocorrect Entry for an En Dash

      From now on, typing the characters will insert an en dash.

      Insert an En Dash in Microsoft Word Using a Code (Numeric Keypad Only)

      This method also requires a numeric keypad. It will not work on a laptop.
      To insert an en dash:

      1. Move the cursor to the position where you want the en dash.
      2. Press and hold down the Alt key.
      3. Enter 0150 from the numeric keypad (see Figure 7).
      4. Release the alt key.

      The en dash will be inserted in your document.

      Showing the Ctrl key and the numeric keypad to enter 0150 for an en dashFigure 7: Position of the Ctrl and 0150 keys

      Summary

      Some forms of writing, such as academic writing, require use of en dashes.
      There is no single key on the keyboard for an en dash. Therefore, other ways are needed to insert an en dash.
      Five methods of inserting an en dash have been presented above.
      You should choose one method that you like best, and is most appropriate to your needs.
      See  Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes  (opens in new window) for further discussion about the role of the en dash.