Microsoft Word uses autocorrect to change a double hyphen into a dash. There are two types of dash: a short en dash (–) and the longer em dash (—).
Traditionally, unspaced em dashes were used to separate paranthetical remarks—such as this one—from the rest of a sentence. Nowadays, it’s more common to use spaced en dashes – like this – for the same purpose. Because of this, when you are typing, if you key in – then Word will replace these two characters by an em dash if they were not preceded by a space, or by an en dash if they were.
The problem arises when you want to type number ranges. These should use unspaced en dashes, such as 33–45. However, if you type 33–45 then this will be converted to 33—45, which is not what you want.
At present there are two alternatives:
- type the following long-winded sequence of keystrokes
33 -- 45[left][left][backdel][left][backdel]
- use the keyboard shortcut for an en dash (Ctrl+Number_pad_-). OpenOffice.org has inherited the same behaviour. It would be useful if the autocorrect could detect the numbers and use en dashes instead.