How to create em dash shortcut using AutoHotKey on Windows

Last Update: January 21, 2016

I'm not sure about you, but I tend to use em dashes — a lot.

(If you don't know what an em dash is, you can read more about this punctuation mark here

I just changed from an Apple MacBook to a Microsoft Surface 3, and there is no ease of keystroke to simply type an em dash.

But I finally found a work around! If anyone is keen, this is where i found it

The instructions as quoted:

AutoHotKey is the simple solution to this problem. It's a free app that lets you set keystroke combinations to perform any action in any application, including browsers. I was able to map en and em dashes to alt-hyphen and shift-alt-hyphen, respectively. Works flawlessly — every time. (See what I did there?)

You'll see some discussion about this not working with Windows 10, but that's old discussion. It's working for me on my Surface Pro 4 just dandily as of January 21, 2016.

Here's what you do:

1. Download and run AutoHotKey (

2. Right-click on your desktop, and choose New > AutoHotKey Script. Name the script with a .ahk at the end.

3. Right-click the script, and select Edit Script.

4. Paste this code in that script below the existing text:



5. Save, close and double-click the script to run it. Test it out in some random program. You'll see it now works.

6. Make a shortcut of the script, and move it to your Startup Items folder. (Windows-R, then type "shell:startup" to open the Startup folder.) Drag your shortcut into it.

I did not have to do step 6, and I could already use the shift-alt-hyphen shortcut with ease, as mapped by AutoHotKey with the given instructions above!

Anyone else who is a punctuation/grammar nazi like me will really appreciate this new functionality.

Let me know if anyone on here has been struggling with the same issue as I — since we have to produce so much content, i.e., we have to type alot, for our websites, for rankings, for traffic, etc etc...

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Thanks, but in my opinion that script does not create a proper em dash. What it creates is this: –. What I want is this: —. If I copy and paste the latter into the Notepad script, it converts it to the former. What to do?
Loes Premium
These are the shortcodes for EM dash in HTML, the first one you can use on the text editor of your website
I am obsessed with em dash and was so upset that I did not have a shortcut for them on my new 13" laptop. This is a lifesaver!!!
pamdemonium Premium
Cool - I'm glad this came in handy for you!

Funny enough, since this post, my Surface 3 had to be reformatted because it unexpectedly crashed. So AutoHotKey was lost.

I did not reinstall it, and now whenever I need an em dash, I simply google for it, and copy and paste as needed instead >_<
pamdemonium Premium
By the way, glad you joined us here on WA! I believe you chanced upon my invitation link somewhere, or found my blog here on WA?

May I know if you recall how you came about WA? And feel free to let me know how you are finding it so far :)

Follow Kyle's advice, which he posted on your profile wall. You can never go wrong with that. And I am available too - you can message my profile wall, or private message me (although I'm not sure if non-Premium members have private messaging available to them).

Wishing you a good day!
paulgoodwin Premium
Thanks for the share but I am a Mac man and will never change back
pamdemonium Premium
Haha, thanks for stopping by, Paul.

I still have my MacBook Pro (it's 5 years old, and counting!) but it was getting cranky and I needed a new budget-friendly, lightweight internet marketing machine ;) I will use my MacBook Pro to do my design work since it contains my Adobe Creative Suite.

Good to know you won't have problems like em dashes and bullet points (Option + 8) :)
paulgoodwin Premium
ConeyM Premium
I am familiar with an en dash and visited the site of grammarist..and was intrigued on what an em dash is. I like using it....very trendy and modernistic. Even big newspapers are into it. Thanks for sharing.
pamdemonium Premium
Great, glad to know you enjoyed my post :)