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When and How to Use an En Dash in Marketing

Learn when and how to use an en dash in marketing to enhance clarity, professionalism, and brand communication.

If you're not a professional writer, you may not be familiar with the term "en dash". The en dash is part of a group of punctuation markings writers use to make text easier to read and understand. But what makes the en dash confusing is that there are three similar punctuation marks or dashes used in writing. These three dashes are the en dash (–), the em dash (—), and the hyphen (-).

If you haven't heard of this punctuation, you aren't alone. However, if your company creates written content for any purpose, online or offline, using the wrong dash can make your content seem unprofessional or untrustworthy. This is why it's so important to know how and when to use the en dash in marketing to ensure your messages come across correctly.

In this guide, we'll cover how to use an en dash in marketing, when to use an em dash vs. en dash, and more. Continue reading to learn more about this important punctuation marketing that can impact your marketing efforts.

The en dash is a short dash the size of the capital letter N (–) that's used in punctuation. It can be used for various functions, including date and number ranges, time spans and scores, and complex compound adjectives.

But to further explain what an en dash is, it's essential to go over the similar punctuation marks often used in writing: the hyphen and the em dash. The trick is understanding when to use each one because they each have different jobs.

  • The hyphen (the shortest dash) is used within compound words (hyphenated compound), like in the words short-term period, or when writing out numbers, like sixty-one.
  • The en dash (medium length dash) , named because it's the width of the letter N, is used to show a range of numbers, like 1–5, dates, like November 15–30, or time, like Jack will be here between 9–10. When using the en dash, you don't leave any space between the en dash and the words before and after it.
  • The em dash (longest dash)—the size of the letter M—is used in a similar fashion as a comma. It separates a phrase or thought from a previous or following phrase within a sentence.

Examples of en dashes in sentences

You can see how the en dash is used in these sentences:

  • The train became the most important method of travel during the years between the 1880s–1920s, known as The Golden Age of railroad transportation.
  • We expect the new teacher to arrive at school between 1 pm–3 pm.
  • The Cleveland–Dallas schedule has been delayed until all the supplies are collected.
  • The Vietnam War era–uniforms are very different from the uniforms used in the modern military today.

As you can see, the en dash serves different functions for each of these sentences. Sometimes it is used to indicate date ranges, but other times it's used to replace the words "to" or "versus".

The en dash is an important symbol that is often used in writing to indicate ranges or set apart phrases. However, if you don't know when to use an en dash in a sentence correctly, you may experience a loss of consumer confidence in your company, product, or brand.

Therefore, knowing how the en dash is used in writing will help you use it in the right context. Let's take another look into the specific uses of the en dash.

To indicate number and date ranges

It's important to know when to use an en dash in a sentence so your target audience can clearly understand your message. One common way of using an en dash is to indicate a number range or date range. In this case, the en dash replaces the words "through" or "to" in a sentence. Here are some examples:

  • The librarian stated that books numbered 1–30 were already loaned out, so I borrowed book number 31.
  • Our restaurant will be closed for renovations during June 3–29.

To connect words of equal weight

Another situation when an en dash would be used is to connect words of equal weight in a sentence. A few examples of this include:

  • When writing a novel, good author–editor communication is a high priority.
  • The Anglo–Powhatan Wars during the 1600s took place in the Colony of Virginia between colonists and Native Americans.
  • The Cleveland–Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition works to improve the quality of food in urban areas and throughout Northeast Ohio.

To replace "to" or "versus"

En dashes are often used in writing to replace words "to" or "versus". This would look like:

  • Phoenix–Cleveland is a long flight
  • Donald Trump–Joe Biden was quite an interesting election match-up.

To set apart phrases or clauses

En dashes can also be used to set apart phrases or clauses in a sentence to make them easier to read. Some examples of this are:

  • Watching bears catch salmon that are jumping up a river–fascinating during spawning season–is a great way to observe Mother Nature.
  • The repair man–hopefully a good one this time–is supposed to arrive by noon.

To show scores or directions

En dashes are often used to show scores or directions. This would look like:

  • The Miami Heat beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 101–99.
  • The east–west walking trail has a lot of unusual scenery.

To write complex compound adjectives

When writing open compound adjectives, you would use an en dash to clarify what you're saying. Some examples of this are:

  • My country French–style dining room set looks great with this decor.
  • My father collects World War I–era maps and toy soldiers and displays them in his office.

Difference between an en dash vs. em dash

When writing, it's important to know the differences between em dashes and en dashes to ensure your messages come across correctly. The main differences between the two are in their usage and appearance.

The en dash is shorter than the em dash. They are named after the letters N and M because the length of the dash is the same as the letters indicated for each one.

The longer em dash is often used to replace several types of punctuation, including parentheses, commas, semi-colons, and colons. The em dash is a way to add separation, emphasis, and flair to writing. It's used to give readers a physical cue that the information following is something to pay attention to.

On the other hand, the en dash is typically used to indicate ranges or replace the word "to" in a sentence.

The en dash helps readers understand the context of the information they're reading. Without it, a sentence can seem confusing and wordy, which can distract readers and make them more likely to click away from your content.

But an en dash adds clarity to your writing. If you want to win at writing and ensure your marketing efforts are successful, you need to know how to use the en dash correctly.

Using the en dash correctly also helps make your content seem more professional. When you know how to use an en dash in writing, your content will be more respected because the grammar and punctuation are used correctly.

Utilize the en dash for more clarity in your marketing efforts

A marketing message that is poorly written and doesn't use proper punctuation isn't one that's going to be successful. If you want your marketing efforts to be successful, you need to prioritize proper grammar rules, which means understanding when and how to use the en dash.

When you use the en dash correctly, your marketing content will be more clear to readers. Proper en dash usage will make your marketing messages more easily understood, and your readers will appreciate your content more, leading to more customers and revenue for your business.

Whether for a compound adjective or a basketball score, using the en dash correctly will assure your readers that you are as professional in your business as in your marketing efforts.

When creating marketing content, Mailchimp tools and services can help. No matter how you reach out to potential customers, Mailchimp has the resources you need to streamline your marketing efforts, like CRM software and AI writing tools.

So whether you want to improve your lifecycle marketing tactics or growth marketing strategy, Mailchimp is here to help you create the best possible content to take your business to new heights.

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