Ellipsis – All You Need to Know about It

The ellipsis (. . ., …)  also known as dot-dot-dot is a grammatical term (usually three dots) that’s used to indicate an intentional omission of a sentence, word or whole section from a text without changing its original meaning. The word “ellipsis” originates from the Greek word élleipsis, and it means, leave out.

When it comes to how to use ellipses in printed material, there are different opinions. For example “The Chicago Manual of Style“, believes that the ellipsis should consist of three periods, each separated from its neighbor by a non-breaking space (. . .). On the other hand, the ” Associate press and English Wikipedia Manual of Style” believes that the periods should be made with no space between them (…).

As mentioned before, the ellipsis is also called dot-dot-dot, however, it is also called other names like suspension point, points of ellipsis, and periods of ellipsis. Ellipsis can be used to indicate an unfinished statement, thought, an echoing voice, a slight pause or an awkward or nervous silence. However, this largely depends on their context and placement in a sentence. For example, Aposiopesis refers to the use of an ellipsis to trail off into silence. If the ellipsis is placed at the beginning of the sentence, or at the end of the sentence, it can create a feeling of longing or melancholy.

The discussion regarding whether there should be a fourth dot at the end of an ellipsis ls a matter of debate. Some style guides do not, some like the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association(APA), as well as, Chicago advise it. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, on the other hand, believe it to be optional. (Hire an editing service to fix your punctuation)

An example of ellipsis used by Google
An example of ellipsis used by Google


When it appears as a sequence of dots, usually 3, the ellipsis is used to indicate the parts of a sentence or a word has been omitted. That is known as the ellipsis points.

The use of ellipses can be a stylistic approach. This is when a phrase or word is omitted or left out from a sentence. This is used when words omitted may be needed to make a sentence syntactically correct. However, they are not necessary for the reader to understand the sentence’s meaning.

You can decide to take this context a step further when you are writing, and you need to omit larger periods of time.  By using ellipsis, the authors can move the story along without getting bogged down with details that are not necessary. If you want to completely understand this use or perhaps simplify it, think of the concept “time-lapse.”

Examples of Ellipsis

Our first example is taken from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Ellipsis points here are used to let the tell the reader that this is only part of the entire quote:

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth… the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Example 1

Below is a stylistic example of an ellipsis where a word is omitted:

In the baseball game, our team had six homeruns, the other team, only one…”

Looking at the example above, you’d notice the words “homeruns” is left out of the second part of the sentence. Even though the sentence makes it clear that the author is referring to homeruns, and not something else, the sentence remains complete.

Example 2

For this example, we will focus on the larger time-lapse sense. The Harry Potter series written by J.K Rowling is the best example of this. The series is set in different time of the season in seven years but the focus of the plot is in the time that the main character, Harry, spends at his boarding school, Hogwarts. For this effect, the boring summer vacations are extensively left out.


Also learn about other punctuation marks like periods, commas, colons, semicolons, hyphens, dashes, parentheses, brackets, braces, question marks, quotation marks, exclamation marks, and apostrophes)

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By Bizhan Romani

Dr. Bizhan Romani has a PhD in medical virology. When it comes to writing an article about science and research, he is one of our best writers. He is also an expert in blogging about writing styles, proofreading methods, and literature.

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