There are two main ways to type the various types of dashes: using keyboard keys and shortcuts and (in Microsoft Word) using the Insert menu.

Dash use 1 of 2: Keyboard keys and shortcuts

This table shows the various shortcut keys for inserting the different types of dashes in Microsoft Word.


Dash symbolKeyboard key or shortcut
 Mac OSXWindows OS
Hyphen (-)Hyphen keyHyphen key
Minus sign (−)Not availableNot available
En dash (–)Opt + hyphen keyCtrl + hyphen key
Em dash (—)Opt + Shift + hyphen keyCtrl + Alt + hyphen key
The 3-em dash (———)Opt + Shift + hyphen key (×3)Ctrl + Alt + hyphen key (×3)

Using keyboard shortcuts or inserting symbols in Word uses Unicode referencing, a uniform standard for expressing computer text. For example, UTF-8, the most common type of character encoding for digital text, represents the majority of character expression and thus can convert non-English characters, such as Chinese, into digital text using a uniform referencing system. Therefore, inserting and expressing symbols is generalized among languages other than English, allowing uniform symbol use for authors using language other than English on their Word processor or keyboards.

Dash use 2 of 2: Using the Insert menu in MS Word

The below figure shows how to insert an en dash, em dash, 3-em dash, or minus sign in Microsoft Word on the Mac OSX.

Grammar MS word processing

For MS Word, go to the Insert ribbon, then choose Symbol, and then More Symbols:

Grammar MS word processing symbols autocrrect

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