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Using hyphens and dashes

From: After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music

Video: Using hyphens and dashes

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.

Using hyphens and dashes

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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This video is part of

Image for After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music
After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music

49 video lessons · 17730 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 
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  1. 3m 35s
    1. Overview
      1m 35s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 14m 51s
    1. Setting up
      2m 20s
    2. Entering, editing, and styling type
      5m 49s
    3. Using strokes
      3m 6s
    4. Working with paragraph text
      3m 36s
  3. 23m 21s
    1. Setting a title
      2m 31s
    2. Creating a text animator
      6m 54s
    3. Selecting by character vs. percent
      3m 0s
    4. Animating position
      2m 4s
    5. Animating more properties
      3m 31s
    6. Exploring text transitions
      2m 47s
    7. Randomizing order
      2m 34s
  4. 22m 49s
    1. The Cascade recipe
      2m 15s
    2. Exploring offset plus selection shapes
      4m 16s
    3. Working with ramp selection shapes
      4m 26s
    4. Using character anchor points
      4m 40s
    5. Further refinements
      7m 12s
  5. 9m 0s
    1. Working with selections based on words
      4m 16s
    2. Anchor point grouping
      4m 44s
  6. 15m 46s
    1. Using a vertical blur treatment
      3m 58s
    2. Animated tracking
      5m 46s
    3. Working with text on a path
      6m 2s
  7. 14m 56s
    1. Per-character 3D overview
      5m 45s
    2. Enabling per-character 3D
      4m 4s
    3. Exploring per-character 3D rotation
      5m 7s
  8. 18m 37s
    1. Separating fields
      3m 48s
    2. Exploring wiggly options
      4m 28s
    3. Animating wiggles
      3m 18s
    4. Rendering with alpha channels
      7m 3s
  9. 45m 29s
    1. Adding audio
      4m 8s
    2. Audio levels
      4m 27s
    3. Spotting hit points
      5m 33s
    4. Timing to audio
      5m 25s
    5. Spotting dialogue
      7m 32s
    6. Timing dialogue to music
      6m 45s
    7. Mixing audio
      7m 53s
    8. Exploring audio refinements
      3m 46s
  10. 23m 9s
    1. Applying text presets
      5m 50s
    2. Browsing presets in Bridge
      4m 35s
    3. Editing presets
      6m 49s
    4. Saving presets
      5m 55s
  11. 16m 27s
    1. Working with Photoshop text
      4m 58s
    2. Keyframing source text
      4m 21s
    3. The Buzz Words preset
      7m 8s
  12. 20m 43s
    1. Exploring faux styling options
      7m 42s
    2. Tracking and kerning
      4m 56s
    3. Using smart quotes
      4m 8s
    4. Using hyphens and dashes
      3m 57s

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