An ellipsis is three consecutive periods used as a punctuation mark in formal writing to denote missing or omitted text. For example, if you’re quoting someone but don’t need the entire text, put an ellipsis in place of the content you’re not including.
Let’s say you want to quote the Principal of your local school who said:
- "We’ve determined positively, unequivocally, beyond a shadow of a doubt, using all facts and information available, understanding the importance of this decision, that we will need to build a new school within the next five years."
But you don’t want it be so wordy. You would shorten it with an ellipsis like this:
- "We’ve determined positively . . . that we will need to build a new school within the next five years."
The ellipsis is now widely used outside of its formal or traditional purpose for a variety of reasons. Authors use an ellipsis to show a pause in dialogue or narrative, or they use it to show a character or narrator’s thoughts trailing off.
- She wasn’t angry with him . . . she was simply exhausted.
- His eyes welling, he said, "I’m not sure what to do . . ."
- The boy turned the corner and saw the bully . . . was this too big to handle on his own or . . . maybe it was time to take a stand?
Read more about the ellipsis in the full version of this article on our blog.