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Tip 47: Ellipsis

An ellipsis is a series of three dots with spaces between them that are inserted into a quotation to show that words have been omitted from the original quotation. (Ellipses is plural for ellipsis.)

Rules include:
1. When you place an ellipsis in the middle of a quotation to show that words have been omitted, use three points with spaces before and after the ellipses.

In her book about Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss writes, “As we shall shortly see, the comma has so many jobs as a ‘separator’ . . . that it tears about on the hillside of language, endlessly organizing words into sensible groups and making them stay put.”

2. When placing an ellipsis at the end of a quotation to indicate that you have omitted material, use four points-a three-point ellipsis and a period. The ellipsis should follow a blank space.

Lynne Truss also notes that “The final rule for the comma is one you won’t find in any books
by grammarians . . . .”

3. Do not place an ellipsis at the beginning of a quotation to indicate the omission of material.

4. Never leave a point in an ellipsis floating at the beginning or end of a line of text. (However, you may have a period at the end of a fully quoted sentence at the end of a line of text and begin the ellipsis on the next line.)

Brought to you by our very own Grammar Goddess and Sr. Editor, Rhonda Cavender.