Back before social media took off and email was the most pop­u­lar method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, some­thing I saw a lot of was the ellip­sis.

The ellip­sis is a series of three dots (…) usu­al­ly reserved for indi­ca­tion omis­sion of text in a quote. You can also use it to indi­cate unfin­ished thoughts or a slight pause. For exam­ple:

  • we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s chil­dren … will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spir­i­tu­al, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” —Mar­tin Luther King, Jr
  • Dagnabit! I can’t believe I for­got again to … oh, nev­er mind.

Odd­ly, peo­ple at the time seemed to use it any­time they need­ed to pause, at the expense of all com­mas, semi-colons, colons, dash­es, and peri­ods.

  • I have been search­ing online for Microsoft Pub­lish­er but the cheap­est I have seen is about 250.00… is that nor­mal?
  • Now when I click on the brows­er icon I have NOOOOOOOO Book­marks… NOOOOOO short­cuts on the brows­er tool­bar noth­ing… my life is in those book­marks … all my reports and things.
  • I did not scroll to the bot­tom of the page… I went half way down so all the ads and thought ok that was it…

Odd because it takes longer to type it, espe­cial­ly if you include the sug­gest­ed spaces between each dot.

You see it occa­sion­al­ly now on social media, but not near­ly as fre­quent­ly.

The trick to using ellip­sis cor­rect­ly is tak­ing a moment to decide if anoth­er punc­tu­a­tion mark would do the trick. If so, then you prob­a­bly don’t need the ellip­sis.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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