An Editorial Tip from An Editor, Free of Charge

Ellipsis points, you know them? These things:  . . . They are three and always only three. It’s not up to the writer to decide how many there are………….Especially when…….they are not….consistent. And especially abhorrent, don’t use just two! It’s..awful! What is that? Two periods? Should I stop or keep going? My eyes hurt! But Mr. Smartypants over here says that sometimes you should use four. WRONG! That first one is a period, indicating a complete thought and the elision of either the rest of the sentence or one or more sentences, as in “The Revolutionary War was brutal. . . . Washington saved the day.”

You’re welcome.

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4 comments so far

  1. j.o. on

    I have always wondered, though, when you have a period followed by an ellipsis and your style dictates that periods are followed by two spaces, does it end up: [period][space][space][ellipsis (is there a word for just one “period” of an ellipsis?)][space][ellipsis][space][ellipsis][one space?][or two spaces?][next sentence]?

    So, my two questions are:
    1. Is the period followed by two spaces or one?
    2. Is the ellipsis followed by two spaces or one?

    • jeffreimer on

      Dear j.o.,

      I just saw this now. I think I saw it in November and forgot about it, but there you go.

      In answer to your question, I don’t know. I am in book publishing, and books always only use one space between periods. I would imagine, however, that you use two spaces after a period followed by an ellipsis point but one between the ellipsis points themselves.

  2. leeellaoglesbee on

    This made my whole life. An extremely powerful woman in my extremely small town has ruined all of our signs with her libertine use the never ending ellipses… also, my life.

    • jeffreimer on

      Do you have a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves? It comes with a punctuation repair kit. Perhaps you might need a few copies to accomplish the public good.


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