How do I get an en dash or an em dash on Word? Using alt codes.

❓ Do you know your alt codes?

Alt+0150 – This is my favourite and I use this a lot: the en-dash, a dash the size of a letter N. It’s the one which Word often does automatically – when you hit the hyphen to move on to a different clause and, as if by magic, it becomes lengthened. But, if Word’s playing silly beggars, you’ll find yourself using the ‘insert symbol’ function which can be time-consuming. It’s quicker to use the alt code if you know it. (Also used for number ranges and to show joint relationships e.g. 1914–1918; the Hull–Zeebrugge ferry.)

Alt+0151 — I mainly use this when I’m editing American English where some authors prefer to use an em-dash for an aside—or that’s what I find anyway! They can be used in dialogue, too, to show interruption, e.g. “Where’s the—“, though some writers prefer an ellipsis…

So, yeah, they’re the most frequent codes I use and I know these without checking.

I’ve recently learnt ctrl+shift+home as a way to highlight between the cursor and the beginning of the text: really useful if I want to get a quick word count of how far into an editing project I am.

❓ Do you use any alt codes as shortcuts when you’re working?

Published by clairecherryedits Indie Fiction Specialist. Line Editing. Copy Editing. Proofreading.

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