(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?