You may want to quickly add an em dash within your text container—be it a placeholder, text box, shape, or even a table. It's very easy to add an em dash, and there is more than one way to achieve this task, although there may be some differences, and all ways may not work in the version of PowerPoint you are using. But certainly, using one of these options, you will be able to add an em dash in PowerPoint.
What’s an Em Dash?
An Em Dash is a dash that's roughly as wide as the capital letter M. Characters can be wider or less wide, depending on the font used. The M in Arial is wider than the M in Calibri, as you can see in Figure 1, below. Depending upon the font used, the width of your em dash can differ.
Figure 1: Width of the em dash depends upon the font used
One aspect though will always be constant—the em dash will be longer than the en dash, which is similarly roughly based on the width of the capital letter N, as can be seen in Figure 1, above. Also, the en dash is wider than the figure dash, the hyphen, and the minus sign.
We will look at four ways to add an em dash in PowerPoint versions on Windows. We have a separate tutorial on how to add an em dash in PowerPoint versions on Mac.
- Use an Alt key combination
- Use the Symbol dialog box
- Use the Character Map
- Create an AutoCorrect entry
1. Use an Alt key combination
To add an em dash using an Alt key combination, follow these steps:
- Click in any text container object to place your insertion point, as shown in Figure 2, below.
Figure 2: Place your insertion point
- Now hold the Alt key while you type 0151 to insert an em dash (see Figure 3, below)
Figure 3: Add an em dash
2. Use the Symbol dialog box
To access the em dash character from the Symbol dialog box, follow these steps:
- Click in any text container object to place your insertion point, as shown in Figure 2, previously on this page.
- Now access the Insert tab of the Ribbon, and click the Symbol button, as shown in Figure 4, below.
Figure 4: Click the Symbol button
- This brings up the Symbol dialog box, that you can see in Figure 5, below.
Figure 5: The Symbol dialog box
- Scroll down the preview area to find the em dash character, as can be seen highlighted in red within Figure 5, above. You then press the Insert key, also highlighted in red to place your em dash in PowerPoint.
- Double-click any character to quickly add it to your insertion point in PowerPoint. You can double-click characters in quick succession, one after the other, to add multiple characters to your insertion point on the slide.
Quickly Add Symbols
3. Use the Character Map
Character Map is not an option within PowerPoint, but a small program that is built-in within Microsoft Windows. To bring up Character Map, you can bring up the Run dialog box from the Windows Start menu, as shown in Figure 6, below.
Figure 6: Bring up Character Map from the Run dialog box
Next type in "charmap" without the quotes, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6. Now click the OK button.
This will bring up the Character Map program, as can be seen in Figure 7, below.
Figure 7: Character Map
Now follow these steps:
- Click the check-box that says Advanced view, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 7, above.
- This brings up more options within this dialog box, as shown in Figure 8, below.
Figure 8: Advanced view in Character Map
- Now locate the Search for box that is highlighted in red within Figure 8, above.
- Type in the character you want to use. We typed in "em dash" without the quotes, and Character Map found the character we are looking for instantly, as can be seen in Figure 9, below.
Figure 9: Finding an em dash
- Now click the Select button, highlighted in red within Figure 9, above.
- Now the Copy button is available, as seen highlighted in red within Figure 10, below. You can click the Copy button, and navigate to PowerPoint or any other open application, and paste it there.
Figure 10: Copy from the Character Map
Sometimes, you may find that the font size of your pasted em dash character in PowerPoint may be different that the nearby text. In that case, make sure you match the font size of the text pasted.
4. Create an AutoCorrect entry
Finally, you can create an AutoCorrect entry that lets you add an em dash quickly, with a shortcut. To do so, follow these steps:
- Click the File button to bring up Backstage view. Then click the Options link to bring up the PowerPoint Options dialog box that you see in Figure 11.
Figure 11: PowerPoint Options
- Select the Proofing tab in the sidebar and click the AutoCorrect Options button, as highlighted in red within Figure 11, above.
- This will bring up the AutoCorrect dialog box, as shown in Figure 12, below. Select the AutoCorrect tab, and type in your shortcut in the Replace box, highlighted in red within Figure 12. We typed ---, that is three dashes.
Figure 12: AutoCorrect dialog box
- In the With box, we typed in an em dash. You can use any technique, explained previously on this page to bring the em dash character in this With box, highlighted in blue in Figure 12. Next, click the OK button, highlighted in green.
- This will bring you back to the PowerPoint Options dialog box. Click the OK button.
Now, whenever you type ---, PowerPoint will replace the three dashes with an em dash. In case you don't want three dashes to be replaced with an em dash, press Ctrl + Z to undo. Also, do note that any AutoCorrect entry you create will work in all Microsoft applications, such as Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.
Symbols: Add an Em Dash (Glossary Page)