Ellipsis is a form of punctuation signified by three periods with a space before and after the periods ( ... ). Its function is to indicate the deletion of words from a direct quotation when an editor condenses what has been spoken or written by another. If the words that come before the ellipsis will stand as a grammatically complete sentence, place a period after the last word, then add a space, and finally add the ellipsis. For example:

According to the letter, "Quartets that fail to register ... will not be permitted to compete. ... They must submit a renewal application 30 days prior to the contest."


Use ellipsis to indicate a pause or hesitation in speech or to indicate a thought that the speaker or writer does not complete. In the latter instance, use ellipsis if the tone of the statement fades out; if the statement ends abruptly, use a dash.

With a puzzled expression that showed his confusion, he said, "I can't see why anyone ..."

Notice that no period is need to end the incomplete statement because it isn't a complete sentence.

Special effects

Occasionally, an editor may wish to assemble a potpourri of information that ordinarily couldn't be developed into full articles. In this instance, ellipsis may be used to separate the separate items within a paragraph of random observations, facts and trivia, gossip. Use periods after clauses that are complete sentences. This is the only instance outside of direct quotations in which ellipsis may be used.

The food sure was good at our annual Sweetheart Banquet. At least no one complained. ... All 4 One did an outstanding job for us. Let's hope it's an indication of how well they'll do in the contest. ... By the time you read this, we'll have completed our symphony performance, so be ready to buckle down to work on our show songs. ... Congratulations to Doren Tennis for earning the quarterly BOTY.


back to Index

back to Aids for Bulletin Editors