How to Make an Em Dash in Word Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

Making an em dash in Word on a Mac is a simple process that can be done in a few keystrokes. An em dash is a punctuation mark that is used to create a strong break in a sentence or to replace commas, parentheses, or colons. It’s longer than an en dash and a hyphen, and it’s commonly used in formal writing. After reading this brief overview, you’ll be able to insert an em dash into your Word document with ease.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Make an Em Dash in Word Mac

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand what we’re aiming to achieve. An em dash can add emphasis or clarity to your writing, and knowing how to create one quickly can improve your workflow in Word on a Mac.

Step 1: Place the cursor where you want to insert the em dash

Click on the spot in your Word document where you want the em dash to appear.

Step 2: Press the ‘Option’, ‘Shift’, and ‘Minus’ keys simultaneously

Hold down the ‘Option’ and ‘Shift’ keys, then press the ‘Minus’ key (located next to the ‘0’ key).

By pressing these keys together, Word will automatically insert an em dash where your cursor is located. It’s a nifty shortcut that eliminates the need for extra clicks or searching through menus.

After completing these steps, an em dash will appear in your Word document at the cursor’s location. You can continue typing or add additional em dashes as needed.

Tips for Making an Em Dash in Word Mac

  • Remember that an em dash should not have spaces before or after it.
  • Use em dashes sparingly to avoid overcomplicating your sentences.
  • If you’re using Word’s ‘Track Changes’ feature, be sure that the em dash is being tracked as part of your changes.
  • If the shortcut keys don’t work, check that your keyboard settings are correct in your Mac’s System Preferences.
  • Em dashes can also be made by going to the ‘Insert’ menu in Word, selecting ‘Symbol,’ and then choosing the em dash from the list of special characters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an em dash in place of a comma, semicolon, or colon?

Yes, an em dash can replace commas, semicolons, or colons when you want to emphasize a part of the sentence or create a stronger break.

What’s the difference between an em dash, en dash, and hyphen?

An em dash is the longest, typically used to create a break in a sentence. An en dash is shorter and is used to indicate ranges, like dates or numbers. A hyphen is the shortest and most commonly used to join words or split a word at the end of a line.

Can I use em dashes in academic writing?

Em dashes are acceptable in academic writing, but they should be used sparingly and appropriately according to the style guide you’re following (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

What if the shortcut doesn’t work on my Mac?

If the shortcut isn’t working, check your keyboard settings in your Mac’s System Preferences. You might need to adjust the input source or keyboard layout.

Can I add spaces around an em dash?

No, typically you should not add spaces around an em dash. It should be inserted directly between the words it’s connecting or separating.


  1. Place the cursor where you want the em dash.
  2. Press ‘Option’, ‘Shift’, and ‘Minus’ keys simultaneously.


Mastering the simple but vital skill of creating an em dash in Word on your Mac can make your writing look more professional and polished. Whether you’re drafting a novel, preparing an academic paper, or just jotting down a quick list, knowing how to quickly insert an em dash helps you communicate more effectively and clearly. Remember, while the em dash is a versatile punctuation mark, it’s essential to use it judiciously to maintain the readability of your text. Now that you’re equipped with the know-how to make an em dash in Word Mac, go ahead and give your writing the flair it deserves.

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