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. . .
Precomposed ellipsis Spaced 3 periods Mid-line ellipsis
apostrophe   '
brackets [ ]  ( )  { }  ⟨ ⟩
colon :
comma ,  ،  
dash ‒  –  —  ―
ellipsis   ...      
exclamation mark  !
full stop, period .
guillemets ‹ ›  « »
hyphen-minus -
question mark  ?
quotation marks ‘ ’  “ ”  ' '  " "
semicolon ;
slash, stroke, solidus /  
Word dividers
interpunct ·
General typography
ampersand &
asterisk *
at sign @
backslash \
caret ^
dagger † ‡
degree °
ditto mark
inverted exclamation mark ¡
inverted question mark ¿
number sign, pound, hash, octothorpe #
numero sign
obelus ÷
multiplication sign ×
ordinal indicator º ª
percent, per mil  % ‰
plus and minus + −
equals sign =
basis point
section sign §
tilde ~
underscore, understrike _
vertical bar, pipe, broken bar |    ¦
Intellectual property
copyright ©
sound-recording copyright
registered trademark ®
service mark
currency sign ¤

؋฿¢$֏ƒ£元 圆 圓 ¥ 円

Uncommon typography
index, fist
irony punctuation
In other scripts

An ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission" or "falling short") is a series of dots (typically three, such as "…") that usually indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning.[1]


Depending on their context and placement in a sentence, ellipses can indicate an unfinished thought, a leading statement, a slight pause, an echoing voice, or a nervous or awkward silence. Aposiopesis is the use of an ellipsis to trail off into silence—for example: "But I thought he was . . ." When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy or longing.

The most common form of an ellipsis is a row of three periods or full stops (. . .) or a precomposed triple-dot glyph (). The usage of the em dash (—) can overlap the usage of the ellipsis, especially in dialogue. Style guides often have their own rules governing the use of ellipses. For example, The Chicago Manual of Style recommends that an ellipsis be formed by typing three periods, each with a space on both sides.

The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, "dot-dot-dot".[2]

In writing[edit]

In her book on the ellipsis, Ellipsis in English Literature: Signs of Omission (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Anne Toner suggests that the first use of the punctuation in the English language dates to a 1588 translation of Terence's Andria, by Maurice Kyffin. In this case, however, the ellipsis consists not of dots but of short dashes.[3] "Subpuncting" of medieval manuscripts also denotes omitted meaning and may be related.[4]

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, an ellipsis was often used when a writer intentionally omitted a specific proper noun, such as a location: "Jan was born on . . . Street in Warsaw."

As commonly used, this juxtaposition of characters is referred to as "dots of ellipsis" in the English language.[5]

Occasionally, it would be used in pulp fiction and other works of early 20th-century fiction to denote expletives that would otherwise have been censored.[6]

An ellipsis may also imply an unstated alternative indicated by context. For example, when Sue says "I never drink wine . . . ", the implication is that she does drink something else—such as vodka.

In reported speech, the ellipsis can be used to represent an intentional silence.

In poetry, an ellipsis is used as a thought-pause or line break at the caesura[7] or this is used to highlight sarcasm or make the reader think about the last points in the poem.

In news reporting, often associated with brackets, it is used to indicate that a quotation has been condensed for space, brevity or relevance.

Herb Caen, Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, became famous for his "three-dot journalism".[8]

In different languages[edit]

In American English[edit]

The Chicago Manual of Style suggests the use of an ellipsis for any omitted word, phrase, line, or paragraph from within but not at the end of a quoted passage. There are two commonly used methods of using ellipses: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second one makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: . . .) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . ...).

The Modern Language Association (MLA) used to indicate that an ellipsis must include spaces before and after each dot in all uses. If an ellipsis is meant to represent an omission, square brackets must surround the ellipsis to make it clear that there was no pause in the original quote: [ . . . ]. Currently, the MLA has removed the requirement of brackets in its style handbooks. However, some maintain that the use of brackets is still correct because it clears confusion.[9]

The MLA now indicates that a three-dot, spaced ellipsis ( … ) should be used for removing material from within one sentence within a quote. When crossing sentences (when the omitted text contains a period, so that omitting the end of a sentence counts), a four-dot, spaced (except for before the first dot) ellipsis (. . . . ) should be used. When ellipsis points are used in the original text, ellipsis points that are not in the original text should be distinguished by enclosing them in square brackets (e.g. "text […] text").[10]

According to the Associated Press, the ellipsis should be used to condense quotations. It is less commonly used to indicate a pause in speech or an unfinished thought or to separate items in material such as show business gossip. The stylebook indicates that if the shortened sentence before the mark can stand as a sentence, it should do so, with an ellipsis placed after the period or other ending punctuation. When material is omitted at the end of a paragraph and also immediately following it, an ellipsis goes both at the end of that paragraph and at the beginning of the next, according to this style.[11]

According to Robert Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style, the details of typesetting ellipses depend on the character and size of the font being set and the typographer's preference. Bringhurst writes that a full space between each dot is "another Victorian eccentricity. In most contexts, the Chicago ellipsis is much too wide"—he recommends using flush dots, or thin-spaced dots (up to one-fifth of an em), or the prefabricated ellipsis character (Unicode U+2026, Latin entity …). Bringhurst suggests that normally an ellipsis should be spaced fore-and-aft to separate it from the text, but when it combines with other punctuation, the leading space disappears and the other punctuation follows. This is the usual practice in typesetting. He provides the following examples:

i … j k…. l…, l l, … l m…? n…!

In legal writing in the United States, Rule 5.3 in the Bluebook citation guide governs the use of ellipses and requires a space before the first dot and between the two subsequent dots. If an ellipsis ends the sentence, then there are three dots, each separated by a space, followed by the final punctuation (e.g. Hah . . . ?). In some legal writing, an ellipsis is written as three asterisks (*** or * * *) to make it obvious that text has been omitted. (...) is also used for awkward silence.

In British English[edit]

The Oxford Style Guide recommends setting the ellipsis as a single character (…) or as a series of three (narrow) spaced dots (. . .), and surrounding it by spaces. If there is an ellipsis at the end of an incomplete sentence, the final full stop is omitted. However, it is retained if the following ellipsis represents an omission between two complete sentences.[12]

The … fox jumped …
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. … And if they have not died, they are still alive today.

Contrary to The Oxford Style Guide, the University of Oxford Style Guide demands an ellipsis not to be surrounded by spaces, except when it stands for a pause; then, a space has to be set after the ellipsis (but not before). An ellipsis is never preceded or followed by a full stop.[13]

The…fox jumped…
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog…And if they have not died, they are still alive today.
It is not cold… it is freezing cold.

In Polish[edit]

When applied in Polish language syntax, the ellipsis is called wielokropek, which means "multidot". The word wielokropek distinguishes the ellipsis of Polish syntax from that of mathematical notation, in which it is known as an elipsa.

When an ellipsis replaces a fragment omitted from a quotation, the ellipsis is enclosed in parentheses or square brackets. An unbracketed ellipsis indicates an interruption or pause in speech.

The syntactical rules for ellipses are standardized by the 1983 Polska Norma document PN-83/P-55366, Zasady składania tekstów w języku polskim ("Rules for setting texts in the Polish Language").

In Russian[edit]

The combination "ellipsis+period" is replaced by the ellipsis. The combinations "ellipsis+exclamation mark" and "ellipsis+question mark" are written in this way: !.. ?..

In Japanese[edit]

The most common character corresponding to an ellipsis is called 3-ten rīdā ("3-dot leaders", ). 2-ten rīdā exists as a character, but it is used less commonly. In writing, the ellipsis consists usually of six dots (two 3-ten rīdā characters, ……). Three dots (one 3-ten rīdā character) may be used where space is limited, such as in a header. However, variations in the number of dots exist. In horizontally written text the dots are commonly vertically centered within the text height (between the baseline and the ascent line), as in the standard Japanese Windows fonts; in vertically written text the dots are always centered horizontally. As the Japanese word for dot is pronounced "ten", the dots are colloquially called "ten-ten-ten" (てんてんてん, akin to the English "dot dot dot").[citation needed]

In manga, the ellipsis by itself represents speechlessness, or a "pregnant pause". Depending on the context, this could be anything from an admission of guilt to an expression of being dumbfounded at another person's words or actions. As a device, the ten-ten-ten is intended to focus the reader on a character while allowing the character to not speak any dialogue. This conveys to the reader a focus of the narrative "camera" on the silent subject, implying an expectation of some motion or action. It is not unheard of to see inanimate objects "speaking" the ellipsis.

In Chinese[edit]

In Chinese, the ellipsis is six dots (in two groups of three dots, occupying the same horizontal or vertical space as two characters) (i.e. ……).[14]

In Spanish[edit]

In Spanish, ellipsis is commonly used as a substitute of et cetera at the end of unfinished lists. So it means "and so forth" or "and other things".

Other use is the suspension of a part of a text, or a paragraph, or a phrase or a part of a word because it is obvious, or unnecessary, or implied. For instance, sometimes the ellipsis is used to avoid the complete use of expletives.

When the ellipse is placed alone into a parenthesis (...) or—less often—between brackets […], which is what happens usually within a text transcription, it means the original text had more contents on the same position but are not useful to our target in the transcription. When the suppressed text is at the beginning or at the end of a text, the ellipse does not need to be placed in a parenthesis.

In French[edit]

In French, the ellipsis is commonly used at the end of lists to represent et cetera. In French typography, the ellipsis is written close up to the preceding word but has a space after it. If, exceptionally, it begins a sentence, there is a space before and after.

However, any omitted word, phrase or line at the end of a quoted passage would be indicated like this: [...] (space before and after the square brackets but not inside).

In German[edit]

In German, the ellipsis in general is surrounded by spaces, if it stands for one or more omitted words. On the other side there is no space between a letter or (part of) a word and an ellipsis, if it stands for one or more omitted letters, that should stick to the written letter or letters.

Example for both cases, using German style: The first el...is stands for omitted letters, the second ... for an omitted word.

If the ellipsis is at the end of a sentence, the final full stop is omitted.[15]

Example: I think that ...

In mathematical notation[edit]

An ellipsis is also often used in mathematics to mean "and so forth". In a list, between commas, or following a comma, a normal ellipsis is used, as in:

or to mean an infinite list, as:

To indicate the omission of values in a repeated operation, an ellipsis raised to the center of the line is used between two operation symbols or following the last operation symbol, as in:

(though sometimes, for example, in Russian mathematical texts, normal, non-raised, ellipses are used even in repeated summations[16]).

The latter formula means the sum of all natural numbers from 1 to 100. However, it is not a formally defined mathematical symbol. Repeated summations or products may similarly be denoted using capital sigma and capital pi notation, respectively:

(see factorial)

Normally dots should be used only where the pattern to be followed is clear, the exception being to show the indefinite continuation of an irrational number such as:

Sometimes, it is useful to display a formula compactly, for example:

Another example is the set of zeros of the cosine function:

There are many related uses of the ellipsis in set notation.

The diagonal and vertical forms of the ellipsis are particularly useful for showing missing terms in matrices, such as the size-n identity matrix:

The use of ellipses in mathematical proofs is often discouraged because of the potential for ambiguity. For this reason, and because the ellipsis supports no systematic rules for symbolic calculation, in recent years some authors have recommended avoiding its use in mathematics altogether.[17]

Programming languages[edit]

A two- or three-dot ellipsis is used as an operator in some programming languages. The precise meaning varies by language, but it generally involves something dealing with multiple items. One of its most common uses is in defining ranges or sequences. This is used in many languages, including Pascal, Modula, Oberon, Ada, Haskell, Perl, Python, Ruby, Bash shell and F#. It is also used to indicate so called variadic functions in the C, C++ and Java languages. See Ellipsis (programming operator).

HTML and CSS[edit]

The CSS text-overflow property can be set to ellipsis, which cuts off text with an ellipsis when it overflows the content area.[18][19]

On the Internet and in text messaging[edit]

The ellipsis is a non-verbal cue that is often used in computer-mediated interactions, in particular in synchronous genres, such as chat. The reason behind its popularity is the fact that it allows people to indicate in writing several functions:

  • The sign of ellipsis can function as a floor holding device, and signal that more is to come, for instance when people break up longer turns in chat.[20]
  • Dot-dot-dot can be used systematically to enact linguistic politeness, for instance indicating topic change or hesitation.[21]
  • Suspension dots can be turn construction units to signal silence, for example when indicating disagreement, disapproval or confusion.[22]

Although an ellipsis is technically complete with three periods (...), its rise in popularity as a "trailing-off" or "silence" indicator, particularly in mid-20th-century comic strip and comic book prose writing, has led to expanded uses online. Today, extended ellipsis anywhere from two to dozens of periods have become common constructions in Internet chat rooms and text messages.[23] The extent of repetition in itself might serve as an additional contextualization or paralinguistic cue, to "extend the lexical meaning of the words, add character to the sentences, and allow fine-tuning and personalisation of the message"[24]

Computer representations[edit]

In computing, several ellipsis characters have been codified, depending on the system used.

In the Unicode standard, there are the following characters:

Name Character Unicode UTF-8 HTML entity name or
Numeric character reference
Horizontal ellipsis U+2026 0xE2 0x80 0xA6 … General
Laotian ellipsis U+0EAF 0xE0 0xBA 0xAF ຯ General
Mongolian ellipsis U+1801 0xE1 0xA0 0x81 ᠁ General
Thai ellipsis U+0E2F 0xE0 0xB8 0xAF ฯ General
Vertical ellipsis U+22EE 0xE2 0x8B 0xAE ⋮ Mathematics
Midline horizontal ellipsis U+22EF 0xE2 0x8B 0xAF ⋯ Mathematics
Up-right diagonal ellipsis U+22F0 0xE2 0x8B 0xB0 ⋰ Mathematics
Down-right diagonal ellipsis U+22F1 0xE2 0x8B 0xB1 ⋱ Mathematics
Presentation form for vertical horizontal ellipsis U+FE19 0xEF 0xB8 0x99 ︙ Vertical form

In Windows, it can be inserted with Alt+0133.

In OS X, it can be inserted with ⌥ Opt+; (on an English language keyboard).

In some Linux distributions, it can be inserted with AltGr+., or alternatively Compose . . sequence can be used.

In Chinese and sometimes in Japanese, ellipsis characters are made by entering two consecutive horizontal ellipsis (U+2026).[clarification needed] In vertical texts, the application should rotate the symbol accordingly.

Unicode recognizes a series of three period characters (U+002E) as compatibility equivalent (though not canonical) to the horizontal ellipsis character.[25]

In HTML, the horizontal ellipsis character may be represented by the entity reference … (since HTML 4.0), and the vertical ellipsis character by the entity reference ⋮ (since HTML 5.0).[26] Alternatively, in HTML, XML, and SGML, a numeric character reference such as … or … can be used.

In the TeX typesetting system, the following types of ellipsis are available:

Name Glyph TeX markup
Lower ellipsis \ldots
Centred ellipsis \cdots
Diagonal ellipsis \ddots
Vertical ellipsis \vdots

In LaTeX, note that the reverse orientation of \ddots can be achieved with \reflectbox provided by the graphicx package: \reflectbox{\ddots} yields Iddots black.svg.

With the amsmath package from AMS-LaTeX, more specific ellipses are provided for math mode.[27]

Markup Usage Example Output
\dotsc dots with commas 1, 2, \dotsc , 9
\dotsb dots with binary operators/relations 1 + 2 + \dotsb + 9
\dotsm dots with multiplication A_1 A_2 \dotsm A_9
\dotsi dots with integrals \int_{A_1}\int_{A_2}\dotsi\int_{A_9}
\dotso other dots 123 \dotso 9

The horizontal ellipsis character also appears in the following older character maps:

Note that ISO/IEC 8859 encoding series provides no code point for ellipsis.

As with all characters, especially those outside the ASCII range, the author, sender and receiver of an encoded ellipsis must be in agreement upon what bytes are being used to represent the character. Naive text processing software may improperly assume that a particular encoding is being used, resulting in mojibake.

The Chicago Style Q&A recommends to avoid the use of  (U+2026) character in manuscripts and to place three periods plus two nonbreaking spaces (. . .) instead, so that an editor, publisher, or designer can replace them later.[28]

In Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1), the ellipsis is used as an extension marker to indicate the possibility of type extensions in future revisions of a protocol specification. In a type constraint expression like A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) an ellipsis is used to separate the extension root from extension additions. The definition of type A in version 1 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ...) and the definition of type A in version 2 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) constitute an extension series of the same type A in different versions of the same specification. The ellipsis can also be used in compound type definitions to separate the set of fields belonging to the extension root from the set of fields constituting extension additions. Here is an example: B ::= SEQUENCE { a INTEGER, b INTEGER, ..., c INTEGER }

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ellipsis". The Free Dictionary. 
  2. ^ as coined by Virginia Woolf in her short story The Mark on The Wall -- or so do notes in Penguin Books' edition (Virginia Woolf: Selected Short Stories) suggest.
  3. ^ … dot, dot, dot: how the ellipsis made its mark, Research Impact, Cambridge University
  4. ^ McNabb, Cameron Hunt (17 August 2016). "The Mysterious History of the Ellipsis, From Medieval Subpuncting to Irrational Numbers". Slate. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Humez, Alexander; Humez, Nicholas (2 October 2008). "Chapter 7". On the Dot: The Speck that Changed the World. ISBN 9780190295943. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  6. ^ Raymond Chandler, Frank MacShane. Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels. First Edition. New York: Library of America. 1995. Note on the Texts.
  7. ^ 'Classroom' synonym.com
  8. ^ `HERB CAEN WAY . . .' HONORS S.F. COLUMNIST, in the Deseret News; published May 29, 1996; retrieved September 5, 2017
  9. ^ Fowler, H. Ramsey, Jane E. Aaron, Murray McArthur. The Little, Brown Handbook. Fourth Canadian Edition. Toronto: Pearson Longman. 2005. p. 440.
  10. ^ http://naropa.edu/documents/programs/jks/naropa-writing-center/citation-comparison.pdf
  11. ^ Goldstein, Norm, editor. "Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law". 2005. pp.328–329.
  12. ^ New Hart's Rules: The Oxford Style Guide. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  13. ^ University of Oxford Style Guide: Hilary term 2016 (PDF). Oxford: University of Oxford, 2016. p. 15. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  14. ^ 省略号
  15. ^ "Deutsche Rechtschreibung. Regeln und Wörterverzeichnis" (PDF) (in German). Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung. 2010. p. 100. Retrieved 2015-10-18. $ 100: Stehen die Auslassungspunkte am Ende eines Ganzsatzes, so setzt man keinen Satzschlusspunkt. 
  16. ^ Мильчин А. Э. Издательский словарь-справочник.— Изд. 3-е, испр. и доп., Электронное — М.: ОЛМА-Пресс, 2006. (in Russian)
  17. ^ Roland Backhouse, Program Construction: Calculating Implementations from Specifications. Wiley (2003), page 138
  18. ^ MDN - text-overflow
  19. ^ CSS Basic User Interface Module Level 3 - text-overflow
  20. ^ Simpson, J (2005). "Meaning-making online: Discourse and CMC in a Language learning community". Recent Research Developments in Learning Technologies. CiteSeerX accessible. 
  21. ^ Erika, Darics (2010). "Relational work in synchronous text-based CMC of virtual teams". Handbook of research on discourse behavior and digital communication: language structures and social interaction. 
  22. ^ Ong, Kenneth Keng Wee (2011). "Disagreement, Confusion, Disapproval, Turn Elicitation and Floor Holding: Actions accomplished by Ellipsis Marks-Only Turns and Blank Turns in Quasisynchronous Chat". Discourse Studies. 13 (2). doi:10.1177/1461445610392138. 
  23. ^ Maness, Jack M. (2007). "The Power of Dots: Using Nonverbal Compensators in Chat Reference" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2007 Annual Meeting of ASIS&T. Annual Meeting of ASIS&T. University Libraries − University of Colorado at Boulder. doi:10.1002/meet.1450440341. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  24. ^ Kalman, Yoram M; Gergle, Darren. "CMC cues enrich lean online communication: the case of letter and punctuation mark repetitions" (PDF). Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  25. ^ UnicodeData.txt: 2026;HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS;Po;0;ON;<compat> 002E 002E 002E;;;;N;;;;;
  26. ^ "W3C Working Draft: HTML5: 8.5 Named character references". 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  27. ^ User's Guide for the amsmath Package. American Mathematical Society, 1999, p. 12.
  28. ^ "Chicago Style Q&A: How do I insert an ellipsis in my manuscript?". The Chicago Manual of Style, edition 16. University of Chicago Press. 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 

Further reading[edit]