Monday, January 9, 2012

PUNCTUATION ALERT: Ellipses from Wikepedia

I'm sure all writers have issues with certain factions of grammar. I do. One of my main problems is getting those pesky ellipses correct. I'm not sure I still do. So, I thought I'd look it up.
Wikepedia went directly to the Chicago Manuel of Style, a resource I respect (I have one sitting here on my desk. I thought I'd share what Wikepedia has to say:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission" or "falling short") is a series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word, sentence or whole section from the original text being quoted. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). It can also be used at the end of a sentence to emphasize a statement. When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech or any other form of text, but it is incorrect to use ellipses solely to indicate a pause in speech.

The most common form of an ellipsis is a row of three periods or full stops (...) or a pre-composed triple-dot glyph (…). The usage of the em dash (—) can overlap the usage of the ellipsis.

The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, dot-dot-dot.

In writing

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, ellipsis was often used when a writer intentionally omitted a specific proper noun, such as a location: "Jan was born on ... Street in Warsaw."

An ellipsis may also imply an unstated alternative indicated by context. For example, when Count Dracula says "I never drink ... wine", the implication is that he does drink something else.

In reported speech, the ellipsis is sometimes used to represent an intentional silence, perhaps indicating irritation, dismay, shock or disgust. This usage is more common amongst younger, Internet-savvy generations.[citation needed]

In poetry, this is used to highlight sarcasm or make the reader think about the last points in the poem. "This is a Happy Warrior, This is he..."

In news reporting, it is used to indicate that a quotation has been condensed for space, brevity or relevance.

Across different languages

In English

The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page. (February 2011)

In legal writing in the United States, Rule 5.3 in the Bluebook citation guide governs the use of ellipsis and requires a space before the first dot and between the two subsequent dots. If an ellipsis ends the sentence, then there are three dots, each separated by a space, followed by the final punctuation, unless the final mark of punctuation is also a period.

The Chicago Manual of Style suggests the use of an ellipsis for any omitted word, phrase, line, or paragraph from within a quoted passage. There are two commonly used methods of using ellipses: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second one makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: . . .) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . ...). An ellipsis at the end of a sentence with no sentence following should be preceded by a period (for a total of four dots). The Modern Language Association (MLA), however, used to indicate that an ellipsis must include spaces before and after each dot in all uses. If an ellipsis is meant to represent an omission, square brackets must surround the ellipsis to make it clear that there was no pause in the original quote: [ . . . ]. Currently, the MLA has removed the requirement of brackets in its style handbooks. However, some maintain that the use of brackets is still correct because it clears confusion.[1]

According to the Associated Press, the ellipsis should be used to condense quotations. It is less-commonly used to indicate a pause in speech or an unfinished thought or to separate items in material such as show business gossip. The stylebook indicates that if the shortened sentence before the mark can stand as a sentence, it should do so, with an ellipsis placed after the period or other ending punctuation. When material is omitted at the end of a paragraph and also immediately following it, an ellipsis goes both at the end of that paragraph and in front of the beginning of the next, according to this style.[2]

According to Robert Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style, the details of typesetting ellipsis depend on the character and size of the font being set and the typographer's preference. Bringhurst writes that a full space between each dot is "another Victorian eccentricity. In most contexts, the Chicago ellipsis is much too wide"—he recommends using flush dots, or thin-spaced dots (up to one-fifth of an em), or the prefabricated ellipsis character (Unicode U+2026, Latin entity …). Bringhurst suggests that normally, an ellipsis should be spaced fore-and-aft to separate it from the text, but when it combines with other punctuation, the leading space disappears and the other punctuation follows. This is the usual practice in typesetting. He provides the following examples:

i … j


l…, l

l, … l



So, pick your poison. It seems I've been seeing novels geering toward the three dots regardless. That's what my publisher is recommending.

To sum up: you can have three dots. You can have three dots during the course of a sentence and four at the end--the fourth being the period at the end of the would-be-sentence. You can have spaces between each dot--or not. Sigh. I usually make a mess of it, because I decide, somewhere in the middle,I've been doing it all wrong.

What do you think?

Please leave comments. This will be a help for all of us.

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