I'm not actually proposing anyone do this (I wouldn't, too much trouble) but, depending on the laptop, usually you have to hit a function key (Num-Lock on a MacBook) or Fn plus another key to engage the "keypad" option where J=1 K=2 and so on. Then you can use ALT plus whatever numerical codes you want. Once finished you have to toggle back off with the original function sequence. Remember, I'm not recommending it! ;-)
This Firefox extension appears to allow you to set up your own keyboard shortcuts for commonly used special characters. I've never tried it though and it doesn't look entirely elegant.
If I badly enough want a dash I open a new tab with Web Developer Toolbar and use Edit HTML with the appropriate character code (or, on Wordie, just stick the code into the comment box). In practice, however, I'm unlikely to want to open another tab, or to hold down two keys with one hand while entering a four-digit code with the other. So yes, I use the odd double-hyphen here and there; and yes, I also use / where �?� is strictly required. But if you know of any Firefox extensions that offer easy duplication of the Windows Character Map (annoyingly buried three submenus down from Start), I'll try them.
Frindley's typography tip of the day: hyphen - whatever you usually do
en-dash (width of capital N) MAC: OPTION and the "hyphen/underscore" key that sits between 0 and +/= in the top row. WIN: ALT and (on numeric keypad) 0150 (MS Word on both platforms has a setting that will auto-correct space hyphen space to space en-dash space, ditto double hyphens with spaces either side --)
em-dash (width of capital M) MAC: OPTION SHIFT and the hyphen/underscore key WIN: ALT and 0151 (The em-dash when used as punctuation typically does not have spaces either side, the en-dash does. Ergo, Word will correct double hyphens with no spaces to an em-dash, e.g. a dash--to go becomes a dash—to go)
A dash is like a whole note. Just hold it. When I write a dash, I usually am wanting to convey a short inhale, hold your breath, then - whatever comes after the dash. It gives a sense of, "wait for it..." then the release. I'm thinking dashes are more important for speaking text than for reading it. They are the unpresent director.
Fair enough; I just read a terminal hyphen as a dash by habit, given the way a hyphen is frequently used as an ersatz dash owing to keyboard limitations. U+002D is in fact officially known as a hyphen-minus, so maybe hyphen-plus or plus-hyphen? Edit: or hyphen miners?
The frindley typography nerd emerges bleary eyed from pedants corner and says: But nay, this is not a dash that you see! Rather it is a hyphen. Thus: - Whereas an en-dash is thus: – And an em-dash thus: —
@mollusque: I proffer "punkt" as a nice, brief tag for items ending with a period, aka full stop or full point, aka punkt in another part of the world.
Begins mental composition of letter to the president-elect suggesting time-consuming community service projects for cybernauts exhibiting signs and symptoms of OCSJTS*. Quits upon realizing that pretty much every Wordie member falls in this category.