Ellipsis marks are simply three dots that are used to show the deliberate omission of a word, sentence, line, paragraph or phrase from a quoted passage.
There are several ways to use ellipses. Using three dots is the easiest and the most suitable for general writing and scholarly work. Sometimes, three or four dots are used in legal writing, which is not covered here in this article.
In order to create an ellipsis mark in Mac, you need to hold down the Option key and type in a semi-colon. If you use a PC and Microsoft Word, simply type a full stop (period) three types – the spacing will be set automatically. You can also press Ctrl-Alt and the full stop once as well as hold down the Alt key and type 0133 on the numeric keyboard on Windows.
You use an ellipsis mark regardless of whether the omitted text occurs in the middle of a sentence or in between sentences:
“The rules state, “Every staff member must be fully trained in Health and Safety…” (The original sentence: “Every staff member must be fully trained in Health and Safety on an annual basis.”)
When you use three dots, you can leave out punctuation like commas etc. that appeared in the original text. Let’s see an example:
The original text: “Every staff member must be aware of the regulations, Health and Safety requirements and First Aid points to ensure sufficient well-being in the workplace.” When rewritten using ellipsis marks it would read:
“Every staff member must be aware of the regulations…to ensure sufficient well-being in the workplace.”
When you use three dots, you do not need to use ellipsis marks at the end of a quoted piece of text even if words are missing, as in the example above.
Also, if your quoted text starts with the middle of a sentence, you do not need to use ellipses at the front:
“The staff manual said, ‘be aware of the regulations… ensure sufficient well-being in the workplace.’”
Lastly, you can use ellipses to indicate where sentences are meant to trail off:
“I am not sure what I think…”
As you can see, using ellipsis marks is not so difficult once you know the rules. This type of punctuation is very useful for academic work when large pieces of text might need to be quoted, but it is also something that is used in everyday writing as well.
When it comes to capitalizing job titles, there are several rules and also The Rule. The other rules have been formed from a precedent, whereas The Rule is based on people’s egos. To differentiate between the rules and “ego rule”, let’s first look at the rules based on the former.
These rules state that you must capitalize job titles that precede the name of the person the job relates to when used as part of the name:
“The journalist asked Chairperson Smith for her opinion on the latest profit figures.”
“President Le Grande stated that the unemployment figures were lower than expected.”
You must also capitalize job titles when they immediately follow the name of the person the job relates to when the word “the” does not precede the job title:
“Mrs Smith, Chairperson, will attend the meeting on 27 July at 09.00.”
“Bill Jones, Editor for The Messenger newspaper, oversaw the article.”
“Ms Brown, Office Manager, will take minutes during the meeting.”
When the word “the” appears before the job title, you do not need to capitalize:
“Mrs Smith, the chairperson, will begin the meeting at 09.00 sharp.”
“Ms Brown, the office manager, will order the new stationery supplies.”
“Bill Jones was the editor of The Messenger for twenty years.”
However, when you write signatures in business letters and other correspondence, you must always capitalize job titles:
“Mrs Jane Smith, Chairperson, ABS Ltd.”
“Mr Bill Jones, Editor, The Messenger.”
“Mr Green, Department Manager, Human Resources.”
Job titles are never capitalized when used in a descriptive manner:
“Mrs Smith, who will chair the meeting, wants all participants to arrive on time.”
“Mr Green, who manages the Human Resources Department, is on leave this week.”
Now, let us turn our attention to The Rule – the rule that concerns ego.
This rule can, in certain circumstances, override the above rules. In working life, you may come across several colleagues, such as a manager, who want their job titles to be capitalized at all times. It is generally the case that more senior members of staff want the ego-boost of having their job titles capitalized everywhere.
So, as you can see, the rules mentioned above are sometimes broken in order to satisfy the wishes of higher-ranking staff members. In other situations, bear in the mind the standard rules, and use them accordingly.
MLA, APA, CSE and Chicago* are the four main American English style guides used in academic writing.
Students and academic staff who use American English need to follow one of these standard styles, so it’s important that you are familiar with them. Also, be sure to tell your editor/proofreader which style you are using.
Click on the link below for more information:
Academic Writing: Referencing and Citation Style Guides – MLA, APA, CSE and Chicago
* Modern Language Association, American Psychological Association, Council of Science Editors Style, and Chicago Style.
I was very honored to be a part of Eric Basir's project, which involved translating and proofreading an eighteenth-century manuscript written in Swedish. And this was not any old manuscript - it was the diary of Gustav Badin, a black African slave who became a member of the Swedish Royal Court. It is a great artifact, detailing his experiences in Sweden, good and bad.
Eric has very kindly made available a free PDF version of the translated diary, and you can get it here.
His intention is that this diary will serve as an important historical document and can be used, without cost, by academics and students, as well as anyone interested in the fascinating life of Badin.
Eric was also interviewed by Radio Sweden and you can hear his interview about the diary here.
He mentions KHO Language Services, among others, thanking us for our help in bringing his project to fruition. Enjoy!
This article is another guest post I wrote for top career mentor, Bud Bilanich, who's asked me to write several articles on professional writing for his blog.
The 10 essential tips listed in my article apply to all kinds of writing, not just business communications – you can use them to structure your academic writing also.
You can read the whole article on Bud's blog here. Enjoy!
Some years ago I saw a poster on a noticeboard at my local supermarket which read: “Professional couple searching apartment in Lund”.
This notice was up for several weeks and always left me with the image of a smartly-dressed couple desperately rummaging around an apartment, having lost something so important that they felt the urge to announce this to the shoppers of Lund.
The couple (who were probably not native English speakers) meant to say:
“Professional couple seeking apartment in Lund” or “Professional couple searching for/looking for apartment in Lund” (the preposition "for" is needed here).
It is a good example of synonyms misbehaving in sneaky ways. In English, synonyms (of which there are plenty) are not always seamlessly interchangeable. Here’s a classic example:
“They were talking English to each other.” Far better to say: “They were speaking English to each other”, even though “talking” and “speaking” are clearly synonyms.
To avoid errors, check your dictionary and thesaurus carefully. A good online dictionary/thesaurus will give you multiple examples of how a word is correctly used in a sentence, and this can help you decide whether or not a particular synonym is suitable.
Anyway, I hope the couple finally found what they were looking for. An apartment, that is.
There are lots of versions of an English thesaurus on the market now, and I believe that Roget's Thesaurus, the original modern thesaurus created in 1805, is one of the best.
It's a great complement to online, print and desktop thesauruses. And it's available here to you for FREE. All you need to do is click on the link below.
Get your free Roget's Thesaurus here. Enjoy!
This article is a guest post I wrote for top career mentor, Bud Bilanich, who very kindly invited me to contribute to his blog last month.
You'll find that the 6 essential tips listed in the article apply to all kinds of writing, not just business communications.
You can read my whole article on Bud's blog here. Enjoy!
As the saying goes, there is always room for improvement. All writers can benefit from working on improving the quality of their work. Use these five tips to become a better writer and it will pay dividends in your studies and career:
Become an avid reader
It goes without saying that writers should also be readers, but sometimes time constraints stop us reading as much as we should or would like.
However, reading is vital when it comes to improving your writing. The key is to read as widely as possible – not just subjects that are in your field of interest but as many topics as you can. Everything you read will give you ideas, motivation, enjoyment and awareness of others’ writing skills. So read fiction and non-fiction, crime, romance and biographies.
Study good examples of writing
This is stating the obvious, but it’s important to study the language you read. Whether it’s a novel or article, if you find a piece of writing that you think is excellent, study its construction and re-read it as many times as you need to in order to understand why it works so well.
Think about why the writing has caught your attention. Is there something in the text that the writer does that you don’t currently use in your work? Can you use something similar into your style of writing (but remember that your own writing style is yours and yours alone and not something to copy from other writers)?
This can also be done with examples of “bad” writing. Study what makes the text poor and think about what improvements could be made. It is all good practice for your own work.
Increase your vocabulary
Reading is excellent for improving your vocabulary and adding words to your repertoire. The English language has an abundance of words – knowing how and when to use them is crucial to the quality of your writing.
Get a good dictionary, either in book form or download an internet dictionary and thesaurus, and make it your aim to learn a few new words each day or week. Check the meanings and spellings of words – don’t assume you simply know – it’s surprising how many words are misspelled and misused!
It’s also good to check the synonyms of different words – this can add to the richness of your descriptions as well as avoid clichés!
Read your work aloud
Reading your writing out loud allows you to check its rhythm and flow. If your work sounds odd to your ears or feels clumsy, it’s a sure sign that you need to revise and rewrite your text. Listen out for word repetitions and superfluous adjectives that make your work sound like long-winded waffle. In writing, less is usually more.
Also make sure you check the length of your sentences. Overly long sentences will stand out clearly when you read them aloud because you’ll need to take a breath mid-sentence!
Proofread and edit
As hard as it can sometimes be, you need to look at your work dispassionately and scrutinise the spelling, grammar, flow and effectiveness of what you have written. Proofreading and editing your text is vital.
Once you have completed your writing, it is best to put it away for a few hours or days and then return to it with fresh eyes.
Carefully read your work again and check the spelling, grammar, remove any unnecessary adjectives and check for repetitions. Are all your verbs in the right tense? Are the facts correct and is the text consistent? These are important considerations when you critically check your work.
Proofreading and editing polishes your text and helps to make it the best it can be and is something you should do after each piece of writing.
The Key Blog
Hello and welcome to The Key Blog! This is where you'll find information and tips on writing, proofreading, and the English language in general. Feel free to use the articles in your own e-zines, blogs or websites etc., as long as you include the resource box. Thank you!