WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: en-dash, dash and minus


From: chagnon@pubcom.com
Date: Jul 27, 2018 9:40AM

A minus is a minus.
A dash is ... well, which dash are you referring to? An em-dash or an en-dash? They are both different in terms of grammar usage and have different meanings. There's nothing in grammar or typography called a dash.

What you used in your email was a hyphen, not a dash. The hyphen is used to connect two words (as in a compound word) or two fragmennts of a word (when hyphenated at the end of a line). It's not a dash, even if people call it that. It's a hyphen and that's how it was programmed in our earliest computer technologies.

In Microsoft Office, it's easy to insert an em-dash, en-dash, or minus as long as you know the Unicode codepoint for each:

Type the 4-character codepoint, followed by Alt plus X keys, and it converts the codepoint to the correct Unicode character. Open up MS Word and try this:

Em-dash is 2014, used between sentence phrases for a more dramatic shift if focus. Should create a long pause with screen readers.

En-dash is 2013, used in a series, such as 9 to 5, January through December.

Minus is 2212.

If you're doing math and science, then use the correct symbol, the minus sign, if you want students to learn and pass their exams.

— — —
Bevi Chagnon, founder/CEO | <EMAIL REMOVED>
— — —
PubCom: Technologists for Accessible Design + Publishing
consulting • training • development • design • sec. 508 services
Upcoming classes at www.PubCom.com/classes
— — —
Latest blog-newsletter – Accessibility Tips

-----Original Message-----
> On Jul 27, 2018, at 8:18 AM, Isabel Holdsworth < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> Hi all,
> Yet another niggly accessibility issue I could do with your thoughts on.
> I'm working on some eAssessment software that allows teachers to
> upload maths questions and their pupils to answer them online.
> Some of the teachers are using the en-dash (–) character instead of
> the minus (−) sign, because it's wider and easier to see. But we feel
> that en-dash doesn't convey the subtraction operation to screenreader
> users.
> Since there's no easy way to enter a minus sign using the keyboard,
> we're trying to come up with a compromise that makes the content more
> accessible.
> I think the dash (-) character is a good alternative, and it's widely
> available and IMO widely understood to denote subtraction.
> What do you guys think?
> We really want to offer the best experience we can to kids sitting
> tests using our software, so I'd appreciate your thoughts.
> Thanks as always, Lynn