Dashes and Hyphens between Dates

Using Dashes between Ranges (e.g., Date Ranges)

The dash is used between ranges. These are often date ranges. For example:
  • Between times: 1200–1600 correct tick or 6 am–8 am correct tick
  • Between days: Monday–Friday
  • Between dates: 12–15 October correct tick
  • Between months: June–August correct tick
  • Between years: 1967–1969 correct tick
The dash can be used for any range. For example:
  • Pages 2–4 correct tick
  • 100–150 people correct tick
Your readers will assume that these ranges are inclusive (i.e., that the ranges include the values that bound the ranges).

Table of Contents

  • Don't Use "From" or "To"
  • Avoid Using Spaces
  • Using Hyphens in Ranges
  • How to Get a Dash
  • Test Time!
dashes or hyphens in dates and ranges

Don't Use "From" or "To"

Don't use the word "from" or "to" if you're using a dash to show a range. If you're not using a dash, then you can use "from" and "to." Don't mix these conventions.
  • Lunch break is 1200–1300. correct tick
  • Lunch break is from 1200 to 1300. correct tick
  • Lunch break is from 1200–1300. wrong cross

Avoid Using Spaces

Avoid putting spaces around your dash. This is not a ruling. It is, however, good practice because when you use spaces, your autocorrect will often try to help you by changing your short dash (especially if you've decided to use hyphens) to an em dash (a longer dash, the length of an uppercase "M"). As autocorrect is inconsistent with this "help," you often end up with a mix of en dashes (a shorter dash, the length of a lowercase "n") and long dashes between your ranges.

Using no spaces at all stops autocorrect trying to help you (as it waits for a space before it looks at what you've just typed), and using no spaces also eliminates inconsistencies with spacing. Here's a scruffy example:
Here's a tidier version:
Read more about hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes.

Using Hyphens in Ranges

Hyphens are not meant to be used for ranges (e.g., 10-12, 1967-1971). Dashes are used for this purpose. However, given that the hyphen is so easy to find on a keyboard, hyphens have become acceptable for ranges. Only a strict grammar pedant would chastise you for using a hyphen in a range. If this were to happen, you could make a good case for the pedant being out of date. Read more about using hyphens.

How to Get a Dash

If you're using a text editor (like Microsoft Word) on your desktop PC, you can get the different dashes via your keyboard's numeric pad.
NamePunctuationHow To Get One
em dashCtl + Alt + minus (on the numeric pad)
minus signminus (on the numeric pad)
en dashCtl + minus (on the numeric pad)
hyphen-- (the key to the right of "0")
author logo

This page was written by Craig Shrives.