How to Add an Em Dash in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding an em dash in Google Docs is a simple task once you know where to find it. An em dash is a punctuation mark that is used to create a strong break in a sentence. It’s longer than a hyphen or an en dash and can be used in place of commas, parentheses, or colons. To add one in Google Docs, you’ll need to use a special character function or a keyboard shortcut.

Step by Step Tutorial on how to add an em dash in Google Docs

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. Adding an em dash can enhance your writing by allowing you to emphasize certain parts of your sentence. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Open Google Docs

First things first, open up your Google Docs document.

You’ll need to be logged into your Google account and navigate to your document where you want to insert the em dash.

Step 2: Place your cursor

Place your cursor in the spot where you want your em dash to appear.

Make sure you don’t have any text highlighted, as this will be replaced by the em dash.

Step 3: Use the Insert menu

Click on the “Insert” menu at the top of the page.

The “Insert” menu is where you can add all kinds of special characters to your document, not just em dashes.

Step 4: Click on “Special characters”

In the drop-down menu, click on “Special characters”.

This will open up a new window where you can find all sorts of symbols and marks.

Step 5: Search for “em dash”

In the search bar of the special characters window, type “em dash”.

You’ll see the em dash symbol appear below the search bar.

Step 6: Click on the em dash

Click on the em dash symbol to insert it into your document.

The em dash will appear where your cursor was placed.

After completing these steps, you’ll have successfully added an em dash to your Google Docs document. It’s a small detail that can make a big difference in your writing.

Tips for adding an em dash in Google Docs

  • Remember that an em dash is different from a hyphen or en dash, and is used for different purposes in writing.
  • If you plan to use em dashes often, consider learning the keyboard shortcut for quicker insertion.
  • Keep in mind that em dashes should not be overused in writing, as they can become distracting.
  • If you’re unsure about whether to use an em dash, consider if another punctuation mark might be more appropriate.
  • Em dashes can be used in pairs to add emphasis or additional information to a sentence, similar to parentheses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the keyboard shortcut for an em dash in Google Docs?

The keyboard shortcut for an em dash is “Alt + Shift + Minus” on a PC. On a Mac, it’s “Command + M”.

Can I use em dashes in formal writing?

Yes, em dashes can be used in formal writing, but they should be used sparingly.

Is there a difference between an em dash and an en dash?

Yes, there is a difference. An em dash is longer and is used to create a strong break in a sentence, while an en dash is shorter and is used to indicate a range.

How many em dashes can I use in one sentence?

While there’s no set rule, it’s generally best to use no more than two em dashes in one sentence to avoid overcomplicating the sentence.

Can I use spaces before and after an em dash?

It’s a style choice. Some style guides recommend using spaces, while others do not. Choose one style and be consistent throughout your document.


  1. Open Google Docs
  2. Place your cursor
  3. Use the Insert menu
  4. Click on “Special characters”
  5. Search for “em dash”
  6. Click on the em dash


In conclusion, adding an em dash in Google Docs is a straightforward process that can greatly enhance your writing. Whether you’re looking to create emphasis, provide additional information, or make a dramatic pause, the em dash is a versatile punctuation mark that can be easily inserted using the “Insert” and “Special characters” functions in Google Docs. Remember to use it judiciously, as with all forms of punctuation, to ensure your writing remains clear and concise. Practice these steps a few times, and you’ll be adding em dashes like a pro in no time. Now go ahead, give it a try, and see how it can improve your writing style!

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