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Ellipsis Marks

English Tip Ellipsis Marks (three dots) are used to show the omission of a word, phrase, line, or paragraph(s), from a quoted passage.

The Three-dot Method
There are many methods for using ellipses. The three-dot method is the simplest and is appropriate for most general works and many scholarly ones. The three- or four-dot method and an even more rigorous method used in legal works require fuller explanations that can be found in reference books.

NOTE: To create ellipsis marks in Microsoft Word, type the period three times and the spacing will be automatically set, or press Ctrl-Alt and the period once. You may also create ellipsis marks by holding the Alt key and typing 0133 on the numeric keypad (Windows) or by holding down the Option key and typing a semicolon (Mac).

Rule 1: Use ellipsis marks whether the omission occurs in the middle of a sentence or between sentences.

Example: The regulation states, "All agencies must document overtime…"

Original sentence: "All agencies must document overtime or risk losing federal funds."

Rule 2: With the three-dot method, you may leave out punctuation, such as commas, that appeared in the original document.

Example: Original sentence from Lincolnís Gettysburg Address: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

Rewritten using ellipses:
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forthÖa new nation, conceived in liberty."

Rule 3: With the three-dot method, you do not need to use ellipses marks at the end of the quote even when words are missing, as in the above example.

Rule 4: If your quoted material begins with the middle of a sentence, you donít need to use the ellipsis marks in front.

Example: Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg address, said, "our fathers brought forth…a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

Rule 5: Use ellipsis marks with sentences that are meant to trail off.

Example: "I thought that you might…"

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