(Other Useful Character Entities)
‐ = hyphen (
‑ = non‐breaking hyphen (
‒ = figure dash (
– = en dash (
— = em dash (
− = minus sign (
- = default hyphen‐minus (what is shown when you press the key next to zero on the keyboard)
Following is taken from http://www.alistapart.com/articles/emen/:
That hyphen you can insert with the key next to the zero on your keyboard is an ambiguous character suffering from an identity crisis. It can’t decide if it’s a hyphen, a minus, or an en dash—in fact, the Unicode specification describes it as “hyphen‐minus” and defines very specific replacements for each of its personalities.
Use it if you need to insert a hyphen, but never for a minus (
−) or a dash, since it does not have the correct width for either, or the vertical position for the latter (compare “1+4-2=3” to “1+4−2=3”).
The soft hyphen (
a.k.a. “discretionary hyphen” and “optional hyphen”) is to be used for one purpose only—to indicate where a word may be broken at the end of a line. Otherwise, it is to remain invisible and not affect the appearance of the word.
Some browsers display it no matter where it falls, but this is not the correct behavior. Others in the past have recommended against its use because its behavior was not well‐defined, but the HTML 4.01 spec makes its use and behavior clear and unambiguous.
Three other hyphen characters exist in Unicode, but are unfortunately not defined in the HTML entity set (although they should be):
- The non‐breaking hyphen (
‑not in HTML) does just what its name implies.
- The hyphen character (
‐not in HTML) is meant to be used in place of the hyphen‐minus when a hyphen is exactly the desired character.
- The hyphenation point (
‧not in HTML) is that bullet‐like character you find in some dictionaries to separate syllables. That is its only use, but if you’re creating an online dictionary, using it will make your entries look more professional.
- Figure Dash
The figure dash (
‒) is so named because it is the same width as a digit, at least in fonts with digits of equal width. The figure dash is used when a dash must be used within numbers, for example with telephone numbers: 634‒5789. Note that this does not indicate a range (use an en dash for that), or function as the minus sign (which has its own glyph).
The figure dash is often unavailable; in this case, one may use a hyphen‐minus instead. In Unicode, the figure dash is
U+2012. In HTML, you must use the numeric forms
‒to type it; there is no equivalent HTML entity. In TeX, the standard fonts have no figure dash; however, the digits normally all have the same width as the en dash, so an en dash can be substituted in TeX.
- En dash
The en dash (
–) is used to indicate a range of just about anything with numbers, including dates, numbers, game scores, and pages in any sort of document.
It is also used instead of the word “to” or a hyphen to indicate a connection between things, including geographic references (like the Mason–Dixon Line) and routes (such as the New York–Boston commuter train).
It is used to hyphenate compounds of compounds, where at least one pair is already hyphenated (as in “Netscape 6.1 is an Open‐Source–based browser.”). The Chicago Manual of style also states that it should be used “Where one of the components of a compound adjective contains more than one word,” instead of a hyphen (as in “Netscape 6.1 is an Open Source–based browser”). Both of these rules are for clarity in indicating exactly what is being modified by the compound.
Other sources also specify the use of an en dash when referring to joint authors, as in the “Bose–Einstein” paper. Some also prefer it to a hyphen when text is set in all capital letters.
Some typographers prefer to use an en dash surrounded by full spaces instead of an em dash. Others prefer to insert hair spaces on either side of the em dash, but this is problematic with some web browsers (see the section on spaces for more detail).
- Em dash
The em dash (
—) is used to indicate a sudden break in thought (“I was thinking about writing a—what time did you say the movie started?”), a parenthetical statement that deserves more attention than parentheses indicate, or instead of a colon or semicolon to link clauses. It is also used to indicate an open range, such as from a given date with no end yet (as in “Peter Sheerin [1969—] authored this document.”), or vague dates (as a stand‐in for the last two digits of a four‐digit year).
Two adjacent em dashes (a 2‐em dash) are used to indicate missing letters in a word (“I just don’t f——ing care about 3.0 browsers”).
Three adjacent em dashes (a 3‐em dash) are used to substitute for the author’s name when a repeated series of works are presented in a bibliography, as well as to indicate an entire missing word in the text.
More info can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash.