Two em dashes

In the character set option of Papyrus there seems to be two em dashes to choose between. What’s the difference and which one should I choose when writing in English? (English is not my mother tongue)
TEXT Papyrus Author

Operating System Windows 8.1

Papyrus Author Version 10.06

The length of dashes depends on the preferences or the care of the type designer who created the font. In your example the difference is barely visible.

Here’s what the dashes are named according to the Unicode standard:

U+2013 En-dash
U+2014 Em-dash
U+2015 Horizontal Bar

The en-dash usually has the same width as the letter n, and the em-dash has the same width as the letter m, so it is slightly longer than the en-dash.

The en-dash is used to replace “to” (“in the years 1955–2011”) and it can also replace commas to indicate a break of thought – such as here – where the sentence continues after the thought.

In US-American typography it is common to use the em-dash to indicate a break of thought—like this without spaces around—but I haven’t seen this in British typography. A little more information can be found here:

1 Like

Thanks a lot Glucose, a real eye-opener to me! Also, suddenly I found out how to use the Papyrus macro to generate these dashes. The en dash = F9 plus one hyphen ( - ) and the em dash = F9 plus two hyphens ( – )
First both macros for some reason generated the en dash, so I deleted and created a new em dash macro, which is very easy to do, and now it works fine.
Another thing, When I zoom in the em dash (u+2014) and the horizontal bar (u+2015) they seem to be exactly the same. So what’s the difference? I zoomed in at 5000 % magnification (yes, you can do that in Papyrus Author!) and both are exactly 326 mm long.
I should add I have a Swedish keyboard, that’s why I have to use the macros. Other keyboard layouts may already include both an en and an em dash.

Apparently there is not much difference, according to the article on dashes in Wikipedia:

The horizontal bar ([U+2015 ― ), also known as a quotation dash , is used to introduce quoted text. This is the standard method of printing dialogue in some languages. The em dash is equally suitable if the quotation dash is unavailable or is contrary to the house style being used.

I really like the way you can type these on a Mac: Alt-Hyphen is en-dash and Shift-Alt-Hyphen is em-dash. On Windows I usually use hyphen-hyphen as an automatically expanding macro in Papyrus.