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Why You Should Mind Dashes Punctuation

Students and professional writers are often left pulling out their hair over the number of different punctuation marks they are required to use and the rules that surround their usage. Few know to use dashes in a sentence to correctly punctuate it. This is why many seek out the use of a dash punctuation checker to review their work before they submit it.

There are in fact multiple types of dashes that you could use within your writing. Each has its own type of use and rules that concern it. They differ in appearance by their specific length. You have the hyphen (the shortest dash), the En dash and the Em dash. (“-“, “–“, and “—“.) You can also use multiple dashes in some instances. As a quick summary, a hyphen is usually used to join two words, such as “unit-manager”. While an En dash will be used to show a range of dates or numbers. The Em dash however has far more uses and can be used to provide emphasis in a variety of different ways which are discussed below.

Common Mistakes with Dash Formatting

Knowing how to punctuate dashes in a sentence can be a complex matter. Within academic writing you should always follow the specific rules laid down within the style expected within your discipline for the correct use of hyphens and dashes. The following are some of the common ways in which the English punctuation dash is misused within all forms of writing:

Using a hyphen where an em or en dash should have been used

Using an en dash between a range after the use of the words between or from

Using double dashes where an em dash is called for

Failing to use a hyphen to join related words

What Is a Dash Punctuation Checker?

Learning how to use dashes correctly is going to take you time. But you still need to ensure that you submit work of a high standard while you learn dash correct formatting. Editing and proofreading your own work is often ineffective, especially if you are unsure of the rules you are checking against. Hiring a professional to review your work is rarely going to be an affordable option.

Therefore, most writers will turn to a dash checker tool to review their writing. Tools such as ours use complex algorithms to fully check your writing against thousands of different rules for grammar and punctuation. They do it tirelessly and will not overlook mistakes unlike human checkers.

Using our em dash checker you can be sure that any mistakes in your writing will be highlighted in just minutes rather than having to go through potentially hours of painstaking editing. This enables you to confidently submit writing that you know will be error free.

What Can a Dash Checker Do for You?

Our dash punctuation checker offers you a full range of checks against your writing. It will fully check your dash use within your writing to ensure that all have been correctly placed. In addition, it will also provide you with all of the following:

  • Spelling check: including the incorrect use of similar words
  • Grammar: it will review your writing against hundreds of different grammatical rules
  • Punctuation: it will check all of your punctuation from periods and commas to semicolons
  • Originality: the tool will conduct a plagiarism test to ensure there is no copying
  • Style: the tool offers suggestions for improving your writing



Regular use of a good punctuation checking tool will help you to not only submit better quality writing, it also helps you to improve your own skills. You will soon pick up your common mistakes and how they can be avoided in your writing if you use the tool on your work.

How Does Our Dash Correction Software Work?

Using our dash punctuation fixing tool is a simple task. All you have to do to take advantage of the powerful checks provided is to:

Highlight the text that you need to check and paste it into the space that is provided within the tool.

Press “start” and the tool will commence its checking of your work. Depending on the length of your text this will take only a few seconds.

The tool will highlight any errors that it detects and offer you advice or fixes to correct what it has found.

Review the results and make corrections as advised, many are implemented with a simple mouse click. Recheck your writing to ensure that any changes are acceptable.

How Does Our Dash Fixer Differ from Others?

There are many tools out there online for checking your dash formatting as well as other punctuation and grammar issues. Our tool however is one of the best that you will find out there.

It is free to use yet can provide as much help as many paid tools. It also offers a huge amount of functionality that others cannot match. Checking for everything from grammatical errors within your writing through to originality of your work.

It is quick and easy to use and will return your results within minutes. Its advice and suggestions are concise and easy to implement no matter how experienced a writer you may be.

How to Do Em Dash Formatting

The em dash (­—) is known by its name due to its length. It is the longest of the dashes, usually as long as an “M” hence its name. It has several distinct uses that set it aside from the other forms of dashes talked about here.

You can type an em dash by holding down the “Ctrl”, “Alt” and “-“in windows, however, ensure that you use the “-“ from the numeric keypad on the right of the keyboard. For a Mac you can type “option” (or “alt” on some keypads) plus the hyphen key.

Em dash punctuation is used to replace a few other commonly used punctuation marks such as the comma, parentheses and the colon. Learning how to use the em dash does not have to be difficult. The following are a few ways in which the “—” can be used:

#1. To show when a thoughts takes a quick change: this is often used in informal writing rather than more formal reports and papers. It is used to show a rapid change in direction or to signal an interruption, especially within dialogue. The following are some examples of the em dash being used in this way:

“Mary do take a look at the—Johnny, put down that knife immediately!”

“Can you please—oh, don’t worry about it.”

#2. Instead of parentheses: the use of dashes will draw more attention to what lays within them than using a pair of brackets. So, brackets should be used where the information is being included subtly while you would use your em dash where you want to really highlight the information. If you are wondering how do I punctuate an em dash instead of brackets you simply replace the brackets for the dash but with no spaces between. If however, the bracket ends the sentence there is no final dash. For example:

Once the contamination was discovered the practice recalled the patients (all 300 of them) for further tests.

Once the contamination was discovered the practice recalled the patients—all 300 of them—for further tests.

Or:

Once the exams were marked the students that were found to have copied each other were recalled (all 6 of them).

Once the exams were marked the students that were found to have copied each other were recalled—all 6 of them.

#3. Instead of using commas: again, the dash is used to add additional emphasis to what you have written so that attention is drawn to what is between the dashes. They can also be used where you want to limit the number of commas as they may confuse the reader. The following examples of punctuation em dash demonstrate:

They all, Mary, Mark, John, and Steve, ran down to the store to get in line for the new release of their favorite game.

They all—Mary, Mark, John, and Steve—ran down to the store to get in line for the new release of their favorite game.

And:

When you want help with that call the supervisor, Mark not Marry, he will provide you with the support you need.

When you want help with that call the supervisor—Mark not Marry—he will provide you with the support you need.

#4. To emphasize the contents of a list: another use of the em dash is to provide additional focus on the list that you provide for your reader. An example of this method is:

Snakes, spiders, even frogs—just some of the deadly poisonous things you could find in your tent in the country here.

A professional em dash checker provides you with a quick way to automatically format em dash use within your writing. This can help you to avoid mistakes in the work that you submit.

How to Do En Dash Formatting

An en dash is another form of dash that is of medium length. Between a standard hyphen and the em dash. Like the “Em”, the “En” is so named due to it being the length of an “N”. It has very different uses to the em dash and you will need to know the rules of how to use en dash punctuation in your writing if you are to avoid problems.

The en dash (–) can be typed in Windows using the “Ctrl” and the “-“ key on the numeric keypad. For a Mac you will need to type “option” and the Minus.

Getting the correct punctuation after an en dash and knowing how to use dashes in a sentence to correctly punctuate it can be confusing for some. The following are some helpful rules and examples that will help explain how to use an en dash:

#1. To show scores: another well recognized use for the en dash is that of showing scores. So instead of showing a range it is showing two distinct numbers as a score. For example:

England led the match 24–14 against Australia at half time.

The vote was passed in favor of the bill 65–35.

#2. To show a range of numbers or dates: the most common use for an en dash is to replace the word “to” or more appropriately “through” between two numbers or dates. Using it correctly however is not always simple as there are many instances in which you must use the words rather than a dash. The following are some incorrect and correct methods of using the en dash to show ranges of numbers and dates:

Incorrect Usage:

“Efficiency of vaccines was found to vary from 65%–75%”. When using “from” or “Between” no en dash should be used, you should have used “65% to 75%.”

Correct:

Efficiency of 65%–75% was deemed acceptable for fully licensed use.

The reading material is on pages 7–14.

Office hours are 11:00am–3:00pm.

#3. To indicate a connection: this connection between words can be positive or negative and can also indicate direction. The following punctuation after an en dash is appropriate in these cases:

The North–South divide was put under intense pressure by the recent changes in government.

The Washington–Boston route is expected to be much quicker under the new provider.

 Conducting an en dash check manually can be time consuming, it can also be difficult as few people have the focus to proofread their work to a high enough standard. Our easy to use dash punctuation tool however can get the check done for you in next to no time to the highest levels of accuracy.

Correct Double Hyphen Grammar

Another area that writers struggle with is how to use double hyphen punctuation. In some subject areas such as humanities you may come across the use of a double dash. However in many other subject areas you may never see them in use.

A double dash generally is used instead of an em dash and is used in much the same way. It is a stylistic choice that probably goes back to the use of manual typewriters that did not have the facility to provide the user with a host of additional formatting characters. So the use of “- -“ became common place rather than using “—“.

Double dash punctuation should be undertaken in the same way as with an em dash as described above. However you should only use it if it fits the academic style that you are writing within or you are adopting it as your own personal style of writing. After all, you don’t always have to follow the rules if you are writing for your own enjoyment and the enjoyment of your readers. However, stick to one style so that they don’t become confused.

Formatting a double dash can be done with ease using our dash fixer. It offers you full support to identify and fix all errors and provides proper punctuation of dashes for your writing.

Use our dash punctuation checker today to ensure that you use the right dashes correctly within your writing!

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