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In our final movie, I would like to compare the difference between a hyphen and a dash, and also the two different types of dashes. Now we all know what a hyphen is, but a hyphen is not appropriate for everything. Sometimes you need to use an en dash instead. Let's say you want to indicate a range from this year to this year. You wouldn't replace the word 'to' with just a hyphen. Even if you were to add a space on both sides, it still doesn't look right; it's too short. Instead, you would use an en dash and an en dash is Option+Hyphen on Mac or Alt+Hyphen on Windows.
The rule of thumb is that you should use a space on both sides of an en dash. But you really have to watch the spacing, particularly when you are working with numbers. For instance, the number 1 always has a little bit too much space to the left and right, so you may need to kern the number one to get a good balance. So when using an en dash, at least have a half a space on each side. I usually like to tighten it up. If you don't put any space at all, it usually looks too cramped, and it may even touch a letter, like a zero.
So either create it with a space or leave out the space and use kerning to add the equivalent of say a half space. By the way, some fonts--Helvetica is one of them--tends to have extremely large en dashes compared to a hyphen, but if I use a hyphen that won't look correct either, so I will undo. With the en dash, sometimes I cheat and I will just decrease the width to 70 or 80%, just so I get the width that I like for that particular font.
So there is no hard-and-fast rule. Every font will have a different length of en dash and a different way of spacing it. By the way, there is another type of dash called as em dash and it's rarely used in video. To get an em dash, you'd press Option+Shift+Hyphen. So in this font we have hyphen, en dash, which is Option+Hyphen and Option+Shift+Hyphen. Before we had computers and we only had typewriter, people would use a double hyphen to indicate a dash and then the publisher would replace that with an em dash.
So unless you are typesetting pros, you'd rarely use this type of dash in video. But if you are using it, note that you to not use a space on either side. Although if the spacing is tight, you can kern it a little just to open it up. By the way, it's completely appropriate to use an en dash instead of em dash, but in that case you would put a space before and after, and you might not want to tighten the spaces the way we were doing when we were indicating a range. When you are doing a title, you will want to look at the little niceties of typesetting. With the dates, I also made sure I spaced around the en dash, and I also made sure that the spacing around the letter 1 was tightened up.
Compare this result to the default spacing between the 1 and 9, and also you are just using a regular hyphen when it should be a dash. Now you might be thinking this is a lot of work to go through for every single title, but if you are working on a movie title or a TV show that will be seen by millions of people, and you have a few weeks to work on this job, I think you will find you will only spend about an extra hour kerning and tweaking all of your titles. That's a very small percentage of the entire job.
So I hope these tips help you could use more professional-looking type, and I do believe that your clients will notice the difference.
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