There are two different HTML entities we could use:


Test — Test



Test – Test

There are also a "figure dash": Test ‒ Test
and the "horizontal bar": Test ― Test

Which one should use in on this site? Should we edit if it's not the "preferred dash" or is it just a matter of taste?

  • Which one is the right one? Perhaps this question should be on the main site.
    – Tim
    Jun 6, 2011 at 12:35
  • 1
    I asked here because I wanted to know if it was appropriate to edit other questions. @RegDwight did it, and I'm 100% okay with it.
    – splattne
    Jun 6, 2011 at 12:48
  • 1
    The em dash has absolutely no use in German typography. Use the en dash exclusively. It's also used for number ranges („von 9–15 Uhr geöffnet“). To type it, make sure your keyboard's Num light is lit, then hold down Alt, type 0, 1, 5, and 0, then release Alt. Once you're skilled with that, you'll be way faster than writing HTML entities. You can also use it to quickly insert typographic quotation marks (0132 and 0147) and loads of other characters. Look for Windows-1252 or Windows Alt codes on Google to find out more. Jun 9, 2011 at 0:24

4 Answers 4


Well, use whatever is appropriate?

The em dash is not widely used in German. So there shouldn't be many occasions where it is applicable.

The en dash has more use cases.

For most cases the simple hyphen minus should be fine.

I don't think we should correct hyphens per se. I mean, it's fine if someone does it - any edit that improves something is fine - but it shouldn't be our top priority.


I will certainly not bother to use dashes that my keyboard does not offer voluntarily.

I would refrain from editing dashes because the absolutely correct use might be subjective and argumentative anyway, but if other posters agree on the correct use and want to edit all my posts, they may do so.

But I am against editing old posts and make them float to the top because of punctuation.

  • 1
    That does bug me about StackExchange. Ideally there would be a way to not bump a question to the top when making minor edits for typos etc.
    – misterben
    Jun 6, 2011 at 14:42

I believe it is highly inappropriate to edit questions just for typographic correctness. People usually don’t know how to make the correct symbols with a normal keyboard (it applies to those too: „“’), so it would be just annoying to have all posts edited just for that. Not to mention that an edit requires 6 character changes, and a simple dash won’t be enough.

But of course, if you are editing a question/answer anyway for actual content changes, and spot some typographically incorrect symbols, change then if you like. *

  • Wow. I did not know that there is a limit of at least six characters to be changed for an edit. This makes it awkward to correct errors that change the meaning due to a single letter or comma.
    – musiKk
    Jun 6, 2011 at 13:20
  • The 6-character-limit only applies to people who have less than 1000 reputation (in beta). I added a start to your post to check.
    – Phira
    Jun 6, 2011 at 14:06
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    Except for the questions' floating to top, what would be annoying having your quotation marks fixed?
    – Tim
    Jun 6, 2011 at 15:01
  • @thei Ah I see, good to know. @Tim N: I would be annyed if every second question was edited just for that; if it is a reasonable change, sure do it, but otherwise don't.
    – poke
    Jun 6, 2011 at 15:32
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    I don't know. I always had the feeling that the stance on edits across SE was more like: As long as it improves the question, go crazy. I hardly edit answers though. But maybe it's different with technical sites like SO.
    – musiKk
    Jun 6, 2011 at 19:37

Personally, I find the hyphen much too short for a "Gedankenstrich". As far as I know, the typographic convention in German is to use an en dash – looks about right, doesn't it? Unfortunately, – doesn't work in comments.

As for edits I agree with the others that correcting typography shouldn't be the single reason for an edit.

  • The easiest way to insert an en dash on MS Windows is Alt + 0150 (on the num keypad when the Num light is on). The em dash resides at Alt + 0151. The numbers are their positions in the Windows-1252 codepage. Jun 9, 2011 at 0:13

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