Properly Punctuated: En Dash, —

Posted December 14, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Properly Punctuated, Self-Editing, Writing

There are a few situations in which the en dash is used: any time a range is indicated whether it’s numbers or compound words.

Properly Punctuated is…

…the proper use of quotation marks, commas, semicolons, colons, ellipsis, etc., including how to properly mark dialog, ahem. As Properly Punctuated is in no way complete, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone…

If you’d like to track it, bookmark this page — and consider sharing this Properly Punctuated tidbit with friends by tweeting it.

En Dash, – – (–)
Punctuation: Two dashes (“- -) that run together, “–.
Technically, an en dash is not considered punctuation, but a glyph. A variation on a hyphen. Personally, I still think that makes it punctuation…
General Rule: Creates a link between a range of numbers, dates, or any time you want to indicate from χ through γ. Or with a compound modifier when one of the elements consists of more than one word Felici, 204 and “signifies up to and including, through (Chicago Manual of Style 15, 261–262).

Post Contents:

CAUTION: An en dash is NOT a minus sign. Spacing around a minus sign (−) and an en dash (–) will differ when it is typeset, so your final copy will look more professional if you use the appropriate character.
Spacing the En Dash Rule: Insert an en dash without any spaces between the words or numbers.
Range of Numbers or Dates Rule: Use any time you need to indicate a span that uses numbers — years, a sports score, pages, chapters, money, etc.

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The vote was 7–3.
The score was 28–11.
chapters 3–7
75–130 pages
Using Text Rule: When using text, do NOT use the en dash.

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From / To Between / And
1998–2005 from 1998 to 2005 between 1998 and 2005
Indicates through Rule: When stating that χ goes from here to there, use an en dash.

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The article is located on pages 83–104.
When Nothing Follows the En Dash Rule: When used by itself after a date to indicate that the publication, person’s life, etc. is ongoing. Do not follow with a space.

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Reverend Thomas’ sermons (2012–) have been much improved.

John Brown (1973–) can also be written as John Brown (b. 1973)

Exceptions include:
Do not use an en dash when using…
from & to Rule: When expressing the idea of from χ to γ, do NOT use an en dash. It’s a parallel construction issue.

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The movie is expected to run from * 2 p.m.–4:30.

* The from is implied by using the en dash.

The movie is expected to run from 2 p.m. to 4:30.

If you must use the from, then don’t use an en dash.

She was in the meeting 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

She was in the meeting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


  1. Green indicates the parallel construction
  2. Pale Gray indicates the implication
between & and Rule: if between comes before the first element, use and, NOT an en dash.

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They guessed that war would break out between Germany and France.


  1. Green indicates the parallel construction
Compound Modifier,
Open Compound
Rule: If one of the elements being connected consists of more than one word, use an en dash to eliminate any confusion over it being a compound word.

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New York–Boston corridor
the post-World War II years
a nursing homehome care policy


  1. Green indicates the multi-word element