Longer Dashes When Engraving Brass Nameplates

When you're making something as permanent as an engraving into brass, the lowly hyphen demands your attention! You are about to learn about something you are only aware of in passing - the  smart hyphen!  If you want a hyphen, chances are you really don’t want a stubby little minus sign. You’re looking for what’s known as either an em dash or an en dash. These special dashes are more like elongated hyphens rather than a tight minus sign.

In Microsoft Word, when you type two minus signs to separate two words, the minus signs are automatically converted to an en-dash.  Why does this matter?  When you are typing a span of time, say you want to show an artist’s birth year and death year together.  You will want an en-dash to show up between the two years.  Our online application renders the en-dash when two minus signs are surrounded by spaces!  So if you want a minus sign, just type a single minus sign 1853 - 1890.  If you want an en-dash, type two minus signs such as 1853 -- 1890.  (There is a space between the 3 and the first minus sign, and a space between the second minus sign and the 1.) Our application will render it as 1853 – 1890.


Van Gogh                            vs                           Van Gogh

1853 - 1890                                                         1853 – 1890

for the record here’s an em dash example...


[note: we had to make a judgement call on the em vs en and settled on en dashes.  If you need em dashes, get in touch with us, we can go custom.]

There is a good article on computerhope describing the differences beteween the different dash types.