There are two types of dashes.

The shorter en dash (–) shows us a range of numbers or a period of time:

  • Older children, aged 8–16, should be able to help the younger children.
  • The hotel reception, open 7am–10pm, is the place to get help.

The longer em dash (—) shows:

A big pause.

  • If you are all ready—I will begin my presentation.

Emphasis to the end of a sentence.

  • Now please just—go!

An afterthought.

  • I sent your parcel this morning—at least I think I did.

Don’t worry too much about getting these dashes correct. It is often difficult to find them on a keyboard and many people now use the easier-to-find hyphen when typing.