How to automatically format hyphens as en dashes and em dashes

By using AutoFormat, you can quickly apply formatting such as headings, bulleted and numbered lists, borders, numbers, symbols, and fractions to your text.

Apply bold or italic character formatting to text surrounded by asterisks (*) or underscores ( _ ).

Replace two hyphens (–) with an em dash (—).

You can automatically format a document either as you type or after you’ve written it. In both cases, you can control which automatic changes Word makes. You can also turn off automatic formatting.

How to automatically format hyphens as en dashes and em dashes

When you type a space and one or two hyphens between text, Microsoft Word automatically inserts an en dash (–). If you type two hyphens and do not include a space before the hyphens, then an em dash ( — ) is created.

To create the dashes as you type or after you type, do one of the following:

  1. Click File > Options > Proofing.
  2. Click AutoCorrect Options.
  3. Select the Hyphens (–) with dash (—) check box.


For example, “See pages 3 – 10” becomes “See pages 3 – 10.”

Note: You can undo formatting or turn options on or off by clicking an option on the AutoCorrect Options button.

The button first appears as a small, blue box when you rest the mouse pointer near text that is automatically formatted, and it changes to a button icon when you point to it.