Almost everywhere I see the so called hyphen-minus (Unicode character
U+002D and HTML symbol
-) used as a minus sign, which is actually the standard hyphen character (Unicode character
U+2010 and HTML symbol
‐) as you can see in this example equation:
As you can realize, in most fonts the hyphen-minus does not have the optimal width, thickness or position to represent a minus sign and therefore practicaltypography.com suggests to
use an en dash, which makes an acceptable minus sign in spreadsheets or mathematical expressions.
which looks like this when we follow our example:
But in my opinion this is a little bit misleading, because an en dash is also used to indicate spans or differentiation:
On the other hand there exists a “correct” minus sign (Unicode character
U+2212 and HTML symbol
−) for "everyday speech" but which is rarely used for some reason:
I wonder now if a hyphen(-minus) sign, en dash or a minus sign should be used to represent a minus in typographic context.
As @PieBie and @Zach Saucier pointed out there are many use cases out there. But does the type of publication make any difference?
I mean why should we not use the same minus character when writing a mathematical equation or indicate a negative vote for a post for instance on this site:
As a side note: I also dont know why no minus sign (
U+2212) but rather a hyphen(-minus) gets displayed when we press the minus key - on our numpad. Why are there two same keys for different characters?
Note: The sans-serif typeface Arial was used in the examples.