Communication Skills

JS Tip 182: From the Writing Workshops: Stuff You May Not Know, Part II

Last week we talked about brackets. Today we’ll talk about ellipses.

What?

Ellipses. The little dots, the little periods, you see in documents . . . .

Yes. Those.

Use an ellipsis—three spaced periods—when you’re quoting a reference and you’re either leaving out material or indicating where the speaker paused. “Ellipses” is the plural (several sets), “ellipsis” the singular (one set).

Use an ellipsis—three spaced periods—to indicate deleted material.

Original

He said, “We rejected their shabby, miserable, unprofessional work.”

Rewrite

He said, “We rejected their . . . work.”

Notice how the periods are spaced.

Never use an ellipsis to change the meaning of the sentence.

Original

“We told him not to see the client.”

Rewrite

“We told him . . . to see the client.

This is an integrity issue. It’s wrong; don’t do it.

Use an ellipsis to indicate how a speaker paused.

She explained, “We may have to . . . downsize.”

Some circumstances call for four spaced periods before or after a sentence. We’ll talk about those next week.

Ask us questions. We love this stuff.