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Adding em or en dashes to Google docs

Love Google docs and all that, but typographically it’s a little basic.

One of the things that bugs me is how it hyphenates (or rather, how it doesn’t bother with hyphenation at all). There is a workaround, though.

Here’s how you can add an en dash:

  1. In an open document, open the Tools > Preferences menu. This will display a list of characters that Google docs will replace with something else.
  2. Add a character (or set of characters) that you want to replace with an en dash (I chose two keyboard minus signs)
  3. Add the character you’d like Google docs to display. Unfortunately, Google docs doesn’t recognise HTML entities (e.g. –); you could find an en dash and copy it
  4. Paste your en dash into the Google docs preferences form.
  5. Click OK. Google docs will now automatically replace two keyboard minus signs with an en dash

You could, of course, add any other other characters via this menu.