When you insert hyphens in text in Microsoft Word, some of the hyphens are converted into long dashes (also called en dashes).

For example, you type the following text:

The following words -ants can see legs- are enclosed in hyphens.When you do this, you find that the first hyphen is converted into an en dash, but the second one remains unchanged.


When you type text that is followed by a space and a hyphen, and then type more text, Word automatically inserts an en dash.

When you type text that is followed immediately by a hyphen, Word does not insert an en dash.

The AutoFormat rule assumes that spaces are used either before or on both sides of dashes, and that text appears after or on both sides of hyphens. Therefore, if a space appears before a hyphen, Word replaces the hyphen with an en dash. If text appears before a hyphen, Word makes no change.


To work around this issue, use one of the following methods:

If you want to use hyphens before and after your text, click AutoCorrect Options. This appears when you move the pointer over the corrected hyphen. Then, click Undo Dash.

When you use AutoCorrect Options, you can also click Stop Automatically Creating Dashes, or click Control AutoCorrect Options to open the AutoCorrect dialog box.

If you want to use en dashes instead of hyphens, insert a space before the hyphen. Word will automatically convert the hyphen into an en dash.


Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the "Applies to" section.

More Information

The en dash usually emphasizes the materials that follow it. Dashes also emphasize parenthetical thoughts and convey sudden interruptions in thought.

Hyphens join many compound nouns, all compound adjectives, and, when they are spelled out, the elements of two-digit numbers and fractions. In word division (hyphenation), a partial word at the end of a line is followed by a hyphen, and is completed on the next line.

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