What can be more exciting than a nice chat about ellipsis?
The incorrect spacing of ellipsis is one of the most common problems I see in manuscripts. If you can latch on to the correct use of this small but often seen mark, you'll save time for your editor, who won't need to point it out and will be able to concentrate on larger issues.
Ellipsis are three spaced periods. I have some examples of their use from The Little, Brown Essential Handbook for Writers.
1. OMISSION OF THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE
"Natural ecosystems . . . maintain the world exactly as we would wish it to be maintained."
My note: Please notice the space after "ecosystems," the space between each period, and the space following the last period before the word "maintain."
2. OMISSION OF THE END OF A SENTENCE, WITHOUT SOURCE
"Earth is our home. . . . "
My note: Don't skip a space before the first period. The period indicates that you end the sentence, but you have left out something, or you want to indicate that a character's words trail off. That's why you use ellipsis after the period. Perhaps "the speaker has hesitated or faltered . . . " (When Words Collide, 105).
3. OMISSION OF THE END OF A SENTENCE, WITH SOURCE CITATION (The last sentence in the preceding example also provides evidence of this use.)
"Earth is our home . . . " (Wilson, 27).
My note: The period follows the citation, or source material. Leave a space after the last letter of the sentence before you start the ellipsis.
Some other possible needs for ellipsis can occur, but we've hit on the most common uses here. And I have a confession to make: I was not taught in college to put the period immediately after the last letter of a sentence that has an omission at its conclusion, so according to Little, Brown, I have been in the wrong. As we know, however, different kinds of writing obey different rules. We also often see that punctuation in other countries is not the same as it is in the U.S.
More from Little, Brown: "Use an ellipsis mark when it is not otherwise clear that you have left out material from the source, as when the words you quote form a complete sentence that is different in the original.
If it's difficult for you to remember how to use ellipsis marks, then perhaps you can print out this post and put it on a bulletin board in front of your desk.
It's still Tuesday, but it's late where I am. If you're also on EST, then if this post doesn't put you to sleep, I don't know what will.
By the way, I see some disagreement between grammarians about the use of ellipsis v. ellipses. Most conclude that ellipses is plural, in the sense that you use ellipses more than once. Ellipsis is singular, but one set of three periods counts as singular. I've always used "ellipses." I need to consider the possibility of updating my ellipsis grammar.
Infinities of love,
|Thank you, fishducky.|