What are the golden rules when it comes to formating ellipses?
I know this comes up often. I've looked at previous threads and other sites, but maybe I'm braindead today...
For instance, if a character is reading an article and skipping parts of it: A hord of Orson Scott Card clones invaded the toothpaste factory... Card had no comment... says he will now write a scathing review of the brand...
Or, when trailering of in naration or dialog: "What do you mean the toothpaste industry has blackballed me?" Orson shook his head. "If I don't brush my teeth..."
And then the giant tube plunged from the sky...
Or should it really be: . . .
And when should it really have four periods at the end of a sentence?
A sentence should never have four periods at the end. An ellipse has three periods, not four. Finis.
Ellipses should be used sparingly, and this is said from someone who tends to overuse them. My understanding is they indicate an interrupted statement of dialog. I have not found a use for them, in my writing, for any other purpose. If you look at the sentence you will often see a period suffices just as well.
I do tend to use the ellipse a lot when I'm chatting online or writing posts on forums...
Ellipses should have the three periods grouped with no spaces between them. If you're using ellipses in the middle of a sentence, then don't put spaces before or after the ellipses, either, ie "Card had no comment...says he will write a scathing review of the brand...".
If you are using ellipses at the end of a sentence which would normally need a period, ie "And then the giant tube plunged from the sky," you must add the period as usual after the ellipses: "And then the giant tube plunged from the sky...."
It's fine to use ellipses when showing dialogue trailing off, or showing someone skimming while reading, but ellipses (and colons, semicolons, sentence fragments, etc) should be used sparingly, like spices in cooking.
I get a lot of use out of my copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. Chris, if you don't have any reference books like that, you might want to consider getting one.
Posts: 1750 | Registered: Oct 2004
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So: who's right about ... or ....? I looked up ellipses chicago manual style, but didn't get an answer. Maybe I'll visit the library later. I did get that .... is used at some times.
Posts: 2830 | Registered: Dec 2004
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I don't have my reference books here, so I asked our tech writers.
If a sentence ends in a ellipsis (using Chicago here), use three dots. If an ellipsis indicates unstated material between sentences, use a period at the end of the first sentence followed by three dots.
This is from the Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition:
quote:Q. An ellipsis is defined by three dots. Is there a particular reason that it is limited to three dots? I am looking to understand what the ellipsis signifies!
A. How many dots would you like? You can have as many as four if you put an ellipsis after a period. I donít know of any significance behind the choice of three. Perhaps the number gradually came to be popular and then was standardized in style sheets and grammar for the sake of consistency, as well as to prevent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . silliness.
Taken from the online version here, under the special characters section.
You might also want to check out this old thread since it covers ellipses along with a whole lot of other useful stuff: Courier New's Sinister Side
[This message has been edited by Gwalchmai (edited June 06, 2006).]
I stand corrected on my statement that a sentence should never have four periods, provided you are refering to the ellipses as a period, although technically, an ellipsis is its own punctuation mark, and preceded by a period you still have only one period and one ellipsis.
I think I was over-reacting because I've seen people use anywhere between four and seven periods to form an ellipsis, which is utter nonsense. Proper use of the ellipsis is rare.
I thought you use four periods of ellipsis when quoting, and it indicates you have skipped the end of a sentence. I see no reason to use four in direct writing. But as others have said, I see very little reason to use them at all, other than to indicate to myself where I need to backfill in a story. But I would usually use ### instead.
Posts: 334 | Registered: Sep 2003
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