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Akira Says ... Linotype’s Monthly Typographic Tip

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Akira says ...

Typographic Tip of the Month from Linotype’s Type Director Akira Kobayashi!

October 2006: Hyphens, En-Dashes, and Em-Dashes

There are a number of horizontal marks on a keyboard and inside of a font. What are the correct one for which settings?

Hyphens and En-Dashes
Hyphens are typically used to set compound words, although there are some cases where a multiple compound requires an En-Dash.


Telephone Numbers (USA)
Telephone numbers are written with a hyphen between groupings.

Telephone Numbers

Hyphens Symbolize Relationships

Hyphens Symbolize Relationships
“The Brown-Jones Theory” would be a theory from a single individual named “Brown-Jones&rdquo, whereas “The Brown-Jones Company” is made up of two individuals, respectively named Brown and Jones.

An En-Dash is Used for Dates


1966–85 is correct (1966 to 1985)
1966-85 is not

En-Dashes Span Distances As Well

“Hannover–Hamburg-Harburg” is correct in both instances (Hannover [En-Dash] Hamburg [Hyphen] Harburg), the En-Dash creates the meaning “between Hannover and Hamburg-Harburg.” A hyphen separates Hamburg and Harburg. Harburg is a part of Hamburg; the district is therefore commonly known as Hamburg-Harburg. See the next example.

The Em-Dash serves as a break within a sentence or text. Em-Dashes are not employed in every country’s typographical traditions. For example, German typesetting often substitutes an En-Dash with additional space on each side for cases where Anglo-American guidelines would specify the Em-Dash.


An En-Dash is typically one-half of an Em in width.

The typeface used in this month’s tip is Avenir™ Next

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