By Mary Morel
Reader’s question: If you have a full stop then an ellipsis, do you have three dots or four?
Answer: An ellipsis is always three dots ( … ). (We use ellipses to indicate that we have left out material we’re quoting from.)
That’s where agreement about ellipses ends!
Full stop or no full stop?
Some style guides say that if an ellipsis follows a sentence, use a full stop and have a character space before the ellipsis.
The weather forecast was for rain and sleet. … He went anyway.
Other style guides say that you do not need a full stop to indicate the end of a sentence if it is followed by an ellipsis.
The weather forecast was for rain and sleet … He went anyway.
Spaces or no spaces?
With ellipses, you need to decide whether to use the Microsoft Word default or add spaces before and between your dots.
He droned on and on… (Microsoft default)
He droned on and on …
He droned on and on . . .
Online grammar programs
Learn more about punctuation with my online course, An A to Z of Punctuation ($A39)
View the full list of Online Writing Training courses.