I am trying to insert the symbol in the title of the question, which I copied from a PDF article, but it appears as space in the output file. What is the corresponding LaTeX command?

  • Probably the input encoding does not have the em dash configured. I'd suggest to use the solution by Keks Dose. – topskip Apr 26 '12 at 10:58
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    Also see How to look up a symbol? – Caramdir Apr 26 '12 at 20:51
  • If my typographer's memory serves me, the first item in the list above is not known as a hyphen but as a tee dash. (Or was it simply a matter of tee spaces, en spaces, and em spaces?) Gosh, I used to all know this back when I did actual physical typography... – John Laudun Jan 9 '13 at 3:45

The LaTeX command for such a line are three small ones: ---

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    Alternatively \textemdash. – Torbjørn T. Apr 26 '12 at 15:20
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    Or use Xe/LuaLaTeX and just type . – Caramdir Apr 26 '12 at 20:48
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    @Caramdir: You don't even have to use Xe/LuaLaTeX; pdfLaTeX with \usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}\usepackage[T1]{fontenc} works fine for directly inputting an em dash . – doncherry Apr 28 '12 at 9:54
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    This is not a LaTeX command and it doesn't work universally: scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=xetex_faq#ligs – Roman Cheplyaka Feb 14 '13 at 9:41
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    If you're using Unicode fonts (i.e. you're using XeTeX or LuaTeX), just add Ligatures = TeX as a font option. You need that for any of the typical TeX conversions such as `````, ', -- etc. – Sverre Sep 25 '13 at 15:08

The question has already been answered, but for completeness' sake:

  • Hyphen: -
  • En-dash: --
  • Em-dash: ---
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    To avoid misunderstandings, I like to call the first one (-) a hyphen, because it's usually not used as a dash. In Unicode it's called Minus-hyphen, that's the one normal keyboards enter. (Unicode also has a symbol called Hyphen. – doncherry May 1 '12 at 13:13
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    Donald Knuth, for completeness, adds the fourth one, the mathematical minus sign, $-$. (The TEXbook, page 4.) – Pål GD May 15 '13 at 14:57
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    Using xelatex (XeTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.4-0.9998 (MiKTeX 2.9)) this does not work. Two hyphens just come out as two hyphens. – Marcin Sep 10 '13 at 21:01
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    @Marcin Add Ligatures = TeX as an option when you load your font. – Sverre Sep 25 '13 at 15:09
  • @Sverre Did you get that from my answer? – Marcin Sep 25 '13 at 17:00

The latex commands are:

  • Hyphen: -
  • En-dash: \textendash
  • Em-dash: \textemdash

With the latter two, you will likely want to append {}, because they swallow following space.

If you want to use the ligatures -- and --- with standard unicode fonts, use:

% and/or - see comments

This will emulate substitution of unicode characters for certain "latex standard" ligatures which are present as ordinary unicode characters in modern fonts.

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    It's preferable to use the Ligatures=TeX version, which works both with XeLaTeX and LuaLaTeX, while the other (older) version can't be interpreted by LuaLaTeX. The option can also be used when defining a specific font with \setmainfont, \newfontfamily and similar commands; it's not necessary to use \defaultfontfeatures. If one uses it, probably a declaration \setmonofont should go before \defaultfontfeatures{Ligatures=TeX}. – egreg Sep 25 '13 at 16:03
  • Question to anyone following this thread. Are there any known package clashes? I have \usepackage{fontspec} with \defaultfontfeatures{Ligatures=TeX} with \usepackage{libertine} and I compile with XeLaTeX and I don't get the --- emdash effect at all. I'm considering asking a separate question, but perhaps I'm overlooking something obvious. – PatrickT Apr 30 '16 at 12:06
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    package clash with \usepackage{xesearch} apparently... – PatrickT Apr 30 '16 at 13:14
  • @PatrickT Right, hence why I include the official latex commands. – Marcin Apr 29 '19 at 17:17
  • ! Fatal Package fontspec Error: The fontspec package requires either XeTeX or LuaTeX. - FWIW – i336_ Mar 25 at 7:51

In some contexts it is appropriate to put thin spaces around an em dash, e.g., \,---\,. I defer to the Chicago Manual of Style and Bringhurst on typography for more.

  • I use full on spaces, like { }---{ }. – hatmatrix Dec 24 '17 at 21:21

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