Dots and Don'ts
September 23, 2008 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Is there a rule as to how many ...'s are supposed to be placed at the end of a sentence which is to be continued?

My girlfriend claims it must be 3. I disagree, but I have no basis for this other than 'why 3?'
posted by gman to Writing & Language (21 answers total)
 
I always put three dots, like this...

I've never seen it done any other way either.
posted by aheckler at 7:09 PM on September 23, 2008


Read all about ellipses.
posted by Diddly at 7:09 PM on September 23, 2008


Three periods together is an ellipsis.
posted by purpleclover at 7:10 PM on September 23, 2008


Three periods are an ellipsis, I was told last year in English class that if it signifies the end of a sentence there should be four periods.
posted by papayaninja at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2008


Three dots (ellipsis) to show something has been omitted, plus a period to end the sentence.

BTW, I don't know what you mean by "a sentence [that] is to be continued."
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:20 PM on September 23, 2008


papayaninja - can you give me an example of when 4 periods would be used?
posted by gman at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2008


"I'm thinking of ... something ...."
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:23 PM on September 23, 2008


"I'm thinking of ... something ...."

That's what I meant by "a sentence [that] is to be continued." Thanks.
posted by gman at 7:26 PM on September 23, 2008


There should be no space... before the sentence-ending period.... See?
posted by nicwolff at 7:27 PM on September 23, 2008


Ah, I see. Thanks.

Nicwolff's recommendation is OK, but it's not a rule that must be followed. If you look at Diddly's link above, you'll see that some people prefer to stick a space between the words and the ellipsis. I personally think that looks neater. Also, some people put a space between each two of the dots, particularly in legal usage. All of these options are permissible.

At least we agree on the number of dots. Best of luck.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:33 PM on September 23, 2008


Note that in my English majory days three years ago, I was taught to place spaces around each period in an ellipses (" . . . " as opposed to "..."), but I think this might be a now-outdated MLA convention.

. . . I do think it looks better, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:06 PM on September 23, 2008


Three is the number of full stops that consist an ellipsis. Using more makes you look like a boob. Of course, good English does not use ellipses if at all possible.
posted by Electrius at 8:17 PM on September 23, 2008


Ellipses are supposed to take up one space, e.g. … instead of ...
posted by furtive at 8:28 PM on September 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I was actually surprised at what I found in The Elements of Typographic Style, my go to book for questions like this:
In English (but usually not in French), when the ellipsis occurs at the end of a sentence, a fourth dot, the period, is added and the space at the beginning of the ellipsis disappears.... When the ellipsis combines with a comma, exclamation mark or question mark, the same typographic principle applies. Otherwise, a word space is required fore and aft.
The AP Stylebook disagrees, but its rules result in utter nonsense.
posted by hue at 8:37 PM on September 23, 2008


Four periods are used when you have something in block quotes and yuo want to skip a paragraph or more between quotes. I think it's AP style, but I could be wrong about that. It looks like this:
Big , long paragraph from another source.

....

Next big long paragraph from that same source.
posted by Kronoss at 9:08 PM on September 23, 2008


3, three...
posted by docmccoy at 11:03 PM on September 23, 2008


Ah one...a twohoooo....a threeeeee.....three ...
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:11 PM on September 23, 2008


To be strictly formal an ellipsis contains no periods, it contains exactly one ellipsis "…" To end a sentence you use two typographical characters, an ellipsis and a period.

like so ….

I'm an ellipsis fiend in much of my writing. I keep trying to wean msyelf off them…
posted by Ookseer at 11:37 PM on September 23, 2008


⌥⃣ + ; ⃣  if you're on a Mac
posted by you at 5:19 AM on September 24, 2008


To be more accurate: If you are implying a trailing off, it should be three, regardless of whether the sentence ends (because it doesn't end, you are trailing).

In the more precise case of using an ellipsis to show an elision in quoted material such as in academic use, you use three for an in-sentence elision and four if you are cutting the end of a sentence and then starting at the beginning of another (that is to say if the sentence ends).
posted by dame at 1:02 PM on September 24, 2008


In case you're unable to read you's post, that's option-semicolon on a Mac.
posted by Asymptote at 8:49 PM on September 24, 2008


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