(This post was originally published on 4/5/12. I'm revisiting the topic because I'm currently reading a book that uses a LOT of ellipses. I'll post the review of the book soon; until then, let's brush up on our knowledge of punctuation.)
That's right ... you love them ... so do I! ...
But what is the correct way to use them? A space before? A space after? No spaces? Only three dots? As many dots as you please?
From the University of South Carolina's Editorial Guide:
1) In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and a regular space on either side of the ellipsis, as shown here ( … ).
2) When the grammatical sense calls for a question mark, exclamation point, comma, or colon, the sequence is word, punctuation mark, regular space, ellipsis, e.g., “Will you come? …”
3) When material is deleted at the end of one paragraph and at the beginning of the one that follows, place an ellipsis in both locations.
4) In writing a story, do not use ellipses at the beginning and end of direct quotes that form complete sentences.
“It has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base,” Nixon said.
“ … it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base … ,” Nixon said.
And, from Grammar Girl:
Also, usually there is a space on each side of an ellipsis. The ellipsis is typically standing in for a word or a sentence, so just imagine that it's a word itself, and then it's easy to remember to put a space on each side.
If you're omitting something that comes after a complete sentence, meaning that your ellipsis has to follow a period, put the period at the end of the sentence just like you normally would, then type a space, and then type or insert your ellipsis. Again, you're treating the ellipsis as if it were a word: the first word of the next sentence. This will result in four dots in a row with spaces between each dot, but this is not a four-dot ellipsis—there's no such thing. It is a period followed by a regular three-dot ellipsis.
And yet, all over the web-o-sphere and throughout many novels, we'll find...with no spaces...before or after.
What do you think?
Should an ellipsis have a space before and after it?
Hmm...I usually don't us the spaces.... I have a feeling you're going to have a lot of ellipses in your comments today....ReplyDelete
I hate ellipses. It took me forever to learn how to do the darn things correctly. For some reason my brain never remembered the right way to do them. I just try not to use them unless absolutely necessary, though my WIP does sport a couple.ReplyDelete
Great ~E~ post! SabrinaAFish
I'm totally guilty of sprinkling those little dots all over the place...in what ever manner I choose.ReplyDelete
I use ellipses a lot, but after today's post I will also be spacing them correctly!ReplyDelete
Thank you for a very useful post
I use a space afterwards... but not before. I seem to recall my editor adding the spaces before, and me wondering why though. I'm going to have to go and check now :-)ReplyDelete
I'm with Annalisa on this one. I treat ellipsis just like any other punctuation. You wouldn't see a question mark with a space before it now, would you...?Delete
Also, I insert them before a question mark or exclamation mark, but never with a period. I'm guessing in Britain it's different to the US anyway...
Great debate starter :)
Empire 5-star 500
The thing is, different publishing houses have different rules. I followed the rules in the Chicago Manual of Style and then the publishers wanted something different. Interesting post . . .ReplyDelete
I've noticed, when trying to hit a word count, by not leaving a space one side or the other of the ellipsis, the two words surrounding the ellipsis are counted as one word, so I've gotten in the habit of leaving a space...otherwise, I don't, like Herb Caen...or Irv Kupcinet...ReplyDelete
I love those three little dots but I'm sure I use them wrong half the time.ReplyDelete
Chicago requires spaces between the dots for ellipses, and when I'm copyediting or proofreading for freelance clients, that's generally the style guide I'm given to follow. Thus, I type them that way in my own writing.ReplyDelete
An editor just deleted the beginning space on my ellipses. So, I started deleting that space in my writing. Sigh. Now, I guess I need to put it back in. I mostly use them in dialogue. Your previous topic. :)ReplyDelete
I use them all the time in casual writing -- blogging and commenting and so forth...ReplyDelete
But, surprisingly, not that much in my actual fiction pieces.
Thanks for the guidelines on how to use them correctly!
I never thought about it standing in for a word and how you would usually leave space on either side of a word - very interesting!ReplyDelete
I looked for the correct use of these little buggers and found many different ideas on what is right. But you have shown authoritative documentation on how to use them. And it's easy to remember when you think of it as a word. Thank you for correcting one more person who used them without any spaces on either side. Exellant post!ReplyDelete
I found you through the A to Z challenge.
Okay...I'm an ellipses user and abuser (as you can see from this very sentence) and I've been using them somewhat wrong. *shakes fist at the grammar god. "There are some days I hate you Grammar God!"ReplyDelete
I've been trying kill these things off in my writing, but they still slip in once in a while. Do you remember the book "Forever" by Judy Blume? That thing is loaded with ellipses. It makes your head spin.ReplyDelete
I didn't leave spaces around ellipses until I did NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. I realised that the word counter would class two words as one if there was an ellipsis and no space.ReplyDelete
Now I put a space after an ellipsis... I use them quite a bit on my blog...
I am so happy to have found your blog! Thanks for stopping by mine. Happy A to Z!ReplyDelete
I never knew that's what you called 'em. I just called 'em 'dot dot dot'. lol ...ReplyDelete
I am so happy you stopped by my site today. My grammar/spelling is horrible. These are some great tips I definitely will be following/stalking your blog now.ReplyDelete
Oh darn! Now I'm going to have to go back and check how I've used them in my ms.ReplyDelete
Oh, and Blogger is wrong too. When I came to this comment box, it starts off containing the words "Enter your comment..." with no space visible :)
This is a hard question, and I . . . just don't know what to say. ;)ReplyDelete
Of course, we do thing differently in Canada. So disregard my note, if you wish.
P.S.: Thanks for coming and visiting the Bear's blog.
This is something I've not thought about, but probably because I rarely use this. I think I usually go with three dots and spaces before and after, but I don't actually recall what I've done. Next time I'm sure I'll think about it a bit more.ReplyDelete
A Few Words
An A to Z Co-host blog
I used to really overuse the ellipsis but I've managed to cut back! I never knew there should be a space before and after - I never put a space before unless I'm using it to show where text has been removed from a paragraph. Unless it's used differently in British English maybe?ReplyDelete
I've only just recently learned about the spaces either side. I still forget sometimes :-)ReplyDelete
Yeah... I totally don't follow those rules... but then the way I used them seems to look better to me... ?ReplyDelete
I think an ellipsis definitely needs a space before and after. That seems a little odd for a book to use so many.ReplyDelete