Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Fix: Ellipses

One of my friends and writing buddies (Hi Marsh!) suggested today's topic: ellipses. You know, those three little dots that are used to show that you . . . words. Hmm . . .why do I feel like I left something out?

Alas, I am no expert on today's topic. In fact, I suspect that I'm one of those who overuse it as illustrated after the "Hmm" in the above sentence. In addition to using ellipses for their original purpose (to show where words in a quote are omitted), I also use them to indicate pauses and a continuation of thinking, especially in informal writing. A lot.

So I decided to do a little digging and here's where I dug:

And if for whatever reason you choose not to soil your shovel there, I'll just share a few gold nuggets I unearthed:

1. It's acceptable in informal writing to use ellipses to show pausing and a continuation of thought! Woo Hoo! ('Scuse me while I cabbage patch a bit). BUT, (what is it with big BUTS?) don't over-do it. Apparently, it grates on some readers' nerves when ellipses are used excessively. You know, everything in moderation, blah, blah, blah.

2. You're actually supposed to put a space between the dots! I did NOT know that! And I've been doing it wrong all these years. (*Note, if you're a former student of mine, you're either loving that and doing your own cabbage patch dance OR you're considering seeking reimbursement for your education. Ahem...sorry! I mean, Ahem . . . sorry!)

3. If you're writing formally, you should just check the preferred style manual of your boss, teacher, publisher, or whomever is making you write. Know if it's MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, or the current manual de jour.

If you're a hard-core addict like myself, you really might want to go back (seriously!) and check out the article because it contains more interesting points. If not . . . well, be sure to dot your i's and eye your dots! ;-)

1 comment:

Marsha said...

Funny and informative! If I had the time to insert the word, why would take all that time to put a space in between those handy-dandy little dots?! (or is it handy--dandy?) Looks like I need to re-read the prior posts... or not! haha