Grammar Tip – Dot, Dot, Dot the Ellipsis

People often want to know about the punctuation they refer to as dot, dot, dot. It is actually called an ellipsis. It is formed by using three spaced periods and indicates there are missing words.

As one of my workshop participants said, “It is really saying yada, yada, yada.”

Correct – As usual, the weekly meeting was boring, irrelevant, a waste of time … . I don’t know why we keep having it.

Incorrect – As usual, the weekly meeting was boring, irrelevant, a waste of time… I don’t know why we keep having it.

Note: According to grammar books, there should be spaces before, during and after the periods. If the ellipsis ends the sentence, there is no need to add a fourth period.

Be careful when using an ellipsis. At times, it could make you look lazy, particularly if the reader is not sure what the missing words are. Some email writers use it instead of periods. They believe it emphasizes their points. It doesn’t. Most readers find it distracting.

Another way of adding an ellipsis is to go to the Insert menu on your Word program and select Symbol. The ellipsis produced by the font designers has shrunk the spacing between the periods, but as long as you put the spaces before and after it is acceptable.

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