How to insert an em dash into your text using a keyboard shortcut on Mac or PC

It's easy to insert an em dash on most keyboards.Kerry Wan/Business Insider

  • The em dash keyboard shortcut differs depending on if you're using a Mac or PC.
  • On a PC, you can use an Emoji keyboard or type the "Alt Code," Alt + 0151.
  • On a Mac, you simply need to use the Option, Shift, and Minus keys.
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I'll admit it — I'm nerdy enough to have opinions about grammar, especially about the em dash. Ah, the em dash — a punctuation mark so spectacular, the entire keyboard wasn't enough to contain its glory.

If you're among the uninitiated and have no idea what I'm talking about: the em dash (the — symbol here) might just be the most superior punctuation mark there is. The em dash can tie independent clauses together like a sailor's knot, represent interruptions in thought, and more. If you can think it, the emdash can do it.
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The em dash is also stylistically beautiful, in both its visual appearance and diverse grammatical usage, making it many writers' favorite — especially poets (like me).

It's not, however, found on most keyboards. To use an em dash on your Mac or PC, you'll need to use some quick keyboard shortcuts. Here's what you'll need to know.

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How to use the em dash keyboard shortcut on a PC

There are two options for the em dash keyboard shortcut on Windows operating systems:
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  • The Windows emoji keyboard. The Windows emoji keyboard is an on-screen keyboard that allows you to type emojis instead of letters. Press the Windows key and the period (.) at the same time to open it, then select the Symbols icon. You can pick out and click on the em dash from there.
You can select a number of symbols from the emoji keyboard.William Antonelli/Business Insider
  • Alt codes. Alt codes are basically keyboard shortcuts that don't require you to press many keys at once, but instead require that you hold down the Alt key and then type a specific, multi-digit code on your numpad. To make an em dash, press and hold Alt, then type 0151.
The numpad is the set of vertically stacked numbers on the right side of your keyboard.Logitech; skitching by William Antonelli/Business Insider

Sadly, alt codes don't work on many laptop keyboards — you'll need to have a numpad to use them. If you're using a laptop that doesn't have a numpad, you'll need to use the Windows emoji keyboard method.

How to use the em dash keyboard shortcut on a Mac

Mac operating systems all have the same shortcut for the em dash, which makes the process quick and simple. Press Option + Shift + Minus (that's -, the key right next to 0 at the top of your keyboard). The em dash will appear immediately.
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You'll need a three-key combination to insert an em dash on Mac.Apple; skitching by William Antonelli/Business Insider

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