Using an Ellipsis
The ellipsis consists of three dots, called points, in a row (. . .) and is used to indicate omissions in direct quotations and pauses in general discourse. Space once before the ellipsis and between the three points and after the last point. To clarify that the ellipsis is yours and does not belong to the quoted material, put the ellipsis in brackets.
1. Use an ellipsis to indicate words left out of a direct quotation.
Original quote: "Since graduating from college in Washington, Eva had been taking cortisone to relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Twice Coya traveled to Colorado to nurse her sister who was in great pain. In her classroom one day, Coya received a telegram from her mother: Eva had taken a turn for the worse" (Beito 119).
With ellipsis: "Since graduating from college [. . .] Eva had been taking cortisone to relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. [. . .] In her classroom one day, Coya received a telegram from her mother: Eva had taken a turn for the worse" (Beito 119).
Explanation: Because the writer determined that the college's location in Washington and Coya's nursing her sister irrelevant to the context for the quote, an ellipsis was used to omit that information. Notice that the first ellipsis also replaces the comma. The second ellipsis has four dots because the first period is to end the sentence; however, only the three points of the ellipsis are actually placed in brackets.
Original quote: "It seemed that he no longer cared about anything. Coya's success and public visibility seemed to sap Andy of his own self-esteem; he felt diminished in the eyes of the community" (Beito 191).
With ellipsis: t seemed that he no longer cared about anything. Coya's success and public visibility seemed to sap Andy of his own self-esteem; [. . .]" (Beito 191).
2. Use an ellipsis to indicate pauses in discourse often to indicate thought processes. It can be particularly useful in writing dialogue or at the end of a conclusion to indicate that the narrative, for example, goes on indefinitely.
Ex. A: Nanette kept pondering her decision . . . and finally decided she had made a mistake.
Ex. B: Harold said, "I'm not certain, but . . ."
Ex. C: And what happened then, well . . .
Beito, Gretchen Urnes. Coya Come Home. Los Angeles: Pomegranate P, 1990.
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