Writing style tip: how to use ellipses

We use ellipses to indicate that we have left out material we’re quoting from or that we could say more about the topic. An ellipsis is always three dots ( … ).

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 . . .

You also need to decide if you want spaces after an ellipsis.

He droned one and on… I thought he’d never stop. (Microsoft default)
He droned on and on…I thought he’d never stop.
He droned on and on … I thought he’d never stop.

My opinion? Go with the Microsoft default. It’s not my preferred option, but…!

 

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