When & How to Use En Dash Properly with Useful Examples

En Dash! What is an en dash? How & when to use it? The following article introduces the definition, usage of en dash with useful examples in English with ESL infographic.

What is An En Dash?

An en dash is an average-sized dash that is often used to display limits in numbers and dates. It’s worth noting that en dash is shorter than em dash but prolonged than a hyphen. It can be applied for simplicity in the creation of complex compound adjectives. The name “en dash” is derived from the letter N in that it equals its width.

How to Use En Dash?

An en dash can also be used to show a disparity or link between two words. It’s inserted directly between words/numbers it’s linking while leaving no spaces.

Keying in an en dash is somewhat different based on the operating system installed on your PC. To type an en dash in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, click “Insert,” go-to “Symbols,” click “Special Characters,” scroll down and select En dash and finally click the insert button. By doing so, you’ll have added an En dash to your document.

You can do the same by holding down the Ctrl key and press the minus (-) on your numerical pad.

When to Use En Dash

As mentioned earlier, en dashes are used for specific purposes. With that in mind, let’s look at the various uses of en dashes.

Showing Ranges in Numbers and Dates

An en dash is largely applied in scientific and mathematical terms because it denotes the word to when used between the numbers. It’s also applied when writing page numbers in terms of up to.

For Example:

  • By Tuesday, everyone should have summarized pages 100–123.
  • Our casual workers work 15–25 hours a week.
  • The years 2008–2016 marked the first-ever reign of an African–American president in American history.

If a number or date range is preceded by the word “from,” an en dash shouldn’t be used in such a case. Instead, “to” is the most suitable word to maintain parallelism in the construction. Likewise, if a range is preceded by the word “between,” the word “and” should be used.

For example:

Example 1:

  • Wrong: Barack Obama was President of the United States of America from 2008–2016.
  • Correct: Barrack Obama was President of the United States of America from 2008 to 2016.

Example 1:

  • Wrong: Jason eats between 20–30 oranges per month.
  • Correct: Jason eats between 20 and 30 oranges per month.

Used with Scores and Directions

An en dash can be used to define scores, directions, as well as votes. In this scenario, an en dash denotes the word “to.”

For Example:

  • Chelsea trounced Leeds United 3–1 the previous meeting.
  • A Minnesota–California flight takes about 5 hours.
  • The US Senate voted 52–48 against Donald Trump’s ouster.

Used to Show Ranges in Amounts

Like in numbers, an en dash can be used to show ranges in the amount of something.

For example:

  • Only 100–120 dignitaries honored the invitation.
  • There were 10–15 students in the class when the motivational speaker arrived.

Showing Relationships and Conflicts

The en dash can be used to highlight rivalry or connection between two groups/people. In the phrase “Barcelona–Valencia game,” the en dash denotes the word versus.

Contrary, the “Jason–Peters book” denotes a book written by the duo. The “United Kingdom–Germany trade pact” refers to the pact made between the two nations.


From the above, it’s apparent that the en dash is used for specific purposes and not in all contexts. It’s worth noting that the uses of en dash are not limited to the ones discussed above.

En Dash | Inforgraphic

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