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.
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