After taking a swing at hypens last week, we move on to the second member of the dash family this week: the en dash (–).
The en dash almost always denotes a range (or “up to and including”). If you are symbolizing that some numbers are being left out, then this is your weapon of choice. It’s a little longer than a hyphen (-), but not as long as the em dash (—).
By the way, most modern word processors will change two hyphens into an em dash automatically, but you’ll have to create an en dash on your own. On a Mac, press [alt] + [-]. I always just copy and paste on a PC, though there is a special code to make one (leave it in the comments if you know).
The en dash:
- shows a range of pages, years, or numbers: pp. 23–31, 1996–2002, 2:1–5
- separates scores in sports competitions: Alabama beat Oklahoma 21–14
- distinguishes a regional part of a larger company or school: the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga
Keep in mind that some style guides have looser rules on en dashes, but these are the basics.
Next week, we’ll tackle my favorite member of the dash family—the em dash.
Update: Part 3 is now live.