JS Tip 256: From the Writing Workshops: Three Small Things

Good writers pay attention to detail. To small things.

We suggest three small ways to improve your credibility as a writer.

One: Put a space between the periods in ellipses.1 Ellipses are the little periods that indicate a pause or indicate you—as the writer—have deleted material from a quotation. They’re spaced periods:

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

(The original was much harsher, and you wanted to be more tactful.)

Two: Put no spaces around dashes.2 The dash—sometimes called an em dash—rests against the flanking words:

You—as a writer—have edited the material.

Notice: no spaces between “You” and “as” or “writer” and “have.” Just the dash. Nothing else.   

Three: Capitalize the first letter of the first word in a displayed list.3 

The contract had three conditions. The work had to be done—

{C}1.    {C}On time

{C}2.   Under budget

{C}3.   Without accident

Even though the entries are not complete sentences, you still capitalize the first letter of the first word.

If you have questions, let us know. We love this stuff.


1 The Reference Book, page 46; The Chicago Manual of Style, Section 13.48

2 The Reference Book, page 44; Chicago, Section 6.82

3 The Reference Book, page 93; Chicago, Section 6.124