How to Use Ellipses


Apostrophes     Brackets     Colons     Commas     Ellipses     Em Dashes     En Dashes     Exclamation Marks     Hyphens     Parentheses     Periods     Question Marks     Quotation Marks     Semicolons

Ellipses (singular is “ellipsis”) are great for omitting words in direct quotes or for using informal language to show a trailing off in thought. As you integrate ellipses into your writing, recognize the ethical considerations of omitting words from direct quotes (it’s generally okay if you don’t alter the meaning) but also the value in condensing quotes (because you don’t always need every word to make your point.) Effective use of ellipses shows that you understand how to integrate quotes into writing in a way that is smooth, clear, and ethical. Be careful not to use the informal versions of ellipses in writing that should be formal.

Ellipses difficulty ranking: 7/14 (not too difficult to master!)
Ellispes aren’t too difficult to master if you recognize when and why you’re omitting words from a quote. The greatest misuses of ellipses happen when writers 1) use more than three periods; 2) omit words that significantly alter meaning of an original quote; or 3) use the “trailing off in thought” informality rules for ellipses in formal writing. If you’re careful to not make these mistakes, the ellipses is relatively simple to learn.