How to create a long dash in Google Docs

Android or iOS: Long-hold hyphen

Long-hold the hyphen for access to the en dash and em dash with Gboard on Android or the default keyboard on iOS. The long-hold on the hyphen gives you access to four characters: A hyphen, an en dash, an em dash, and a bullet (Figure B).

Figure B

Screenshots that show the hyphen key after a long-press, which displays additional characters: en dash, em dash, and a bullet.Screenshots that show the hyphen key after a long-press, which displays additional characters: en dash, em dash, and a bullet.
In Google Docs on Android or iOS, long-hold on the hyphen key on your keyboard for access to an en dash, em dash, and bullet character. These screenshots show access to these characters in Gboard (left) and the native Apple keyboard (right).

On iOS devices, another option is to type two hyphens in a row to create an em dash (Figure C).

Figure C

Animated GIF that shows two typed hyphens being replaced by an em dash in Google Docs on iOS.Animated GIF that shows two typed hyphens being replaced by an em dash in Google Docs on iOS.
On an iOS device, you can type two hyphens in a row. The system will replace the two characters with an em dash.

However, if you type a number followed by two hyphens, the system will replace the hyphens with an en dash. The system appropriately assumes you’re trying to indicate a numeric range, so it serves up an en dash instead of an em dash.

macOS: Hyphen, hyphen, space

On current macOS devices, type two hyphens in a row followed by a space–this three-key sequence creates an em dash. The system will automatically replace the two dashes and space with an em dash.

Alternatively, you can type key combinations on macOS. To create an em dash, press the option and minus key. To create an en dash, press Shift, Option, and the minus key.

Chrome OS: Type

If you use a Chrome OS device, you can insert both an em dash and en dash without taking your hands away from the keyboard. Press Shift-Ctrl-U, type the numbers 2014 (one by one), and press spacebar. You’ll see an em dash (Figure D).

Figure D

Animated GIF that shows how to type the Unicode character 2014, an em dash (--), on a Chromebook in Google Docs.Animated GIF that shows how to type the Unicode character 2014, an em dash (--), on a Chromebook in Google Docs.
If you use a Chrome OS device, while in Google Docs press and hold Shift-Ctrl-U simultaneously, release the keys, type 2014, then press the spacebar. You’ll then see an em dash.

For an en dash, try the same sequence, but use the numbers 2013. The three keys, Shift-Ctrl-U, signal to Chrome OS that you’re about to type a Unicode character number.

Your experience?

If you use the hyphen, en dash, and em dash in Google Docs, how do you enter the symbol on your device? Or, do you ignore the differences between these three punctuation marks and simply use a hyphen (or dash)–even though it might be incorrect usage–for everything? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber[2]).

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