The ellipsis is cool, but …

Ellipsis in red by timtom.chhow do I use it?

So glad you asked.

Comprised of three dots called ellipsis points, an ellipsis is a punctuation mark used to indicate an omission. It’s also used to express a pause or trailing off of thought.

Some examples:

“When I’m elected mayor of this town, I’ll clean up the streets like I promised and lower taxes for every hardworking family.”

If that’s too many words for you, you might change the quote to read as follows:

“When I’m elected … I’ll clean up the streets … and lower taxes.”

He’s pretty sure he knows what he’s going to be for Halloween … but he still won’t commit.

I really thought that the Red Sox would win the World Series, but …

Formatting notes:

  • There should be a space on each side of the ellipsis.
  • If an ellipsis follows a period, put the period at the end of the sentence, then add a space, then add the ellipsis. (example: She replied, “I know that there are a lot of fish in the sea. …”)

No wonder the ellipsis is freelance copywriter Beth Z.’s favorite punctuation mark!

For more grammar lessons, please read the following posts:

12 Responses to “The ellipsis is cool, but …”

  1. October 29th, 2008 | 3:04 pm

    Hey, look at that! A trackback! I love blogs almost as much as I love punctuation marks.

    I don’t pay attention to the formatting as much as I should, though. Oh well….

  2. October 29th, 2008 | 5:04 pm

    Beth,
    “I love blogs almost as much as I love punctuation marks.”
    Very well said. :)

    (You’re the one who taught me about the four ellipsis points at the end of a sentence!)

  3. October 29th, 2008 | 10:46 pm

    While I use them every now and then, it’s mostly out of laziness. I’ve actually come to hate ellipses because all my clients prefer different styles. Some like them closed up but with spaces on either side. Some like them with spaces on either side and also each dot spaced. And then there are the different rules in the Chicago alone…oy vey! It’s a pain to try and remember who likes what and which rules to follow.

  4. October 30th, 2008 | 3:53 pm

    I hear you, Steph. In my research for this post, I came across three different ways of presenting ellipsis points: with no spaces between, with spaces between, and with a half space between (what’s a half space, anyway?!). A lot of people do use them out of laziness — in email especially.

  5. October 31st, 2008 | 11:46 am

    Crap! I went and checked my use of ellipsis (is that what they are called? Cool!) in today’s post, and I didn’t put a leading space. NOW you tell me!!!!

  6. October 31st, 2008 | 2:42 pm

    Back when I first got online (in the AOL days), I used ellipses to end just about every statement in email and on forums. Nowadays, I’m much more discerning but I still have a little crush on this unusual punctuation ;)

  7. October 31st, 2008 | 9:07 pm

    Rebecca, thanks for the clarification on the spacing. I do like the ellipsis, and I must confess I use it when moved not because it’s the right thing to do! :-)

  8. November 1st, 2008 | 9:27 am

    Urban Panther: That’s alright, we’ll forgive you (THIS time …) ;)

  9. November 1st, 2008 | 9:32 am

    Melissa, I think everyone goes a little nuts with the ellipsis in email (me included). Glad to hear that you’ve reined yourself in a bit. (You have a crush on the ellipsis! Love it! :) )

  10. November 1st, 2008 | 9:34 am

    Karen, You crazy thing. You break all the rules!

  11. November 3rd, 2008 | 4:26 pm

    excited for 11/11/08…

  12. November 4th, 2008 | 10:23 am

    :)

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