What Is Ellipsis? (with Examples)An ellipsis (...) is three dots used to show that words have been omitted from a quotation or to create a pause for effect. More specifically, an ellipsis can be used:
- To show an omission of a word or words (including whole sentences) from a text.
- To create a pause for effect.
- To show an unfinished thought.
- To show a trail off into silence.
Examples of EllipsisHere are some examples of ellipsis:
- The brochure states: "The atmosphere is tranquil ... and you cannot hear the trains." (omitted text)
- A credit card stolen in London was used to pay for a Chinese meal five hours later ... in Bangkok. (pause for effect)
- "Yeah? Well, you can just…." (unfinished thought)
- Standing tall and with the Lord's Prayer mumbling across our lips, we entered the chamber…." (trail off into silence)
Using Square Parentheses (Square Brackets) with EllipsisWhen using an ellipsis to show that words are missing from a quotation, it is a common practice (but not essential) to put square parentheses ,i.e., square brackets like these [ ], around the ellipsis to differentiate it from an ellipsis which appeared in the original text or to make it clear it's not a pause for effect. For example:
- He would eat [...] jam, ham, spam, lamb, and cram...berries by the tram load. (The square brackets around the ellipsis tell us that the omission was not the work of the original author.)
- Gleaming through the sludge in the U bend was […] my earring.
The Format for EllipsisWhen using ellipses, be consistent with your formatting. That is the golden rule. The formats offered in style guides vary. Your options, in our assessed order of popularity, are:
- "Hello … world" (space-dot-dot-dot-space)
- "Hello . . . world" (space-dot-space-dot-space-dot-space)
- "Hello [...] world" (space-[dot-dot-dot]-space)
- "Hello [. . .] world" (space-[dot-space-dot-space-dot]-space)
- "Hello…world" (dot-dot-dot)
- "I have left out some words at the end, and this is the new end of the sentence... ." (dot-dot-dot-space-dot)
- "This is the new end of the sentence...." (dot-dot-dot-dot)
- "This is the new end of the sentence ... ." (space-dot-dot-dot-space-dot)
- "This is the new end of the sentence [...]." (space-[dot-dot-dot]-dot)
When a quote ends with an original sentence, but you want to show other sentences have been omitted, your options are:
- "I have left out at least one more sentence. ..." (dot-space-dot-dot-dot)
- "I have left out at least one more sentence...." (dot-dot-dot-dot)
- "I have left out at least one more sentence.[...]" (dot-[dot-dot-dot])
- "I have left out at least one more sentence. [...]" (dot-space-[dot-dot-dot])