I’ve been asked this question a couple of times recently, so I thought I’d clear things up! Does an ellipsis have a space between each dot (. . .) or should all the dots be together (…)? The short answer? Either is fine.

The ellipsis with a space between the dots is the format favoured by The Chicago Manual of Style, which says:

They [the dots] must always appear together on the same line (through the use of nonbreaking spaces,* available in most software applications), along with any following punctuation; if an ellipsis appears at the beginning of a line, any preceding punctuation (including a period) will appear at the end of the line above. If they prefer, authors may prepare their manuscripts using the single-glyph three-dot ellipsis character on their word processors (Unicode 2026), usually with a space on either side; editors following Chicago style will replace these with spaced periods.
Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, 13.48.

*You can create a non-breaking space in Word with control + shift + spacebar. (Different versions of Word may vary.) You’ll be able to tell you’ve created a non-breaking space if you toggle on the ‘Show all non-printing characters’ button, which is represented by a pilcrow () – the markup will look different.

The single character ellipsis has a stronger presence in New Hart’s Rules, which says:

An ellipsis (plural ellipses) is a series of points (…) signalling that words have been omitted from quoted matter, or that part of a text is missing or illegible […] They can be set as a single character […] and many word processors will autocorrect three dots into a single glyph.
New Hart’s Rules, 2nd edition, 4.7

So both are correct! Though keep in mind it’s important that the dots always appear on the same line, so make sure you’re either using a single glyph or non-breaking spaces. Most importantly, consistency is key – always use the same style throughout your manuscript!

 

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By | 2017-06-07T13:07:59+00:00 June 7th, 2017|Novel Editing|2 Comments

About the Author:

Sophie is the Director of Liminal Pages, where she offers editorial services to authors and training to fiction editors. She's a Professional Member of the Society of Editors and Proofreaders and trained with The Publishing Training Centre. Back in the day, she worked at the largest publishing company in the world before galavanting off to do an MA in creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London (to add to her BA in English literature with creative writing from UEA). She would like to live on a steampunk airship.

2 Comments

  1. Karen Marston June 7, 2017 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    My question is whether there should be a space before/after them?

    • Sophie Playle June 13, 2017 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      Again, it’s about consistency. Both New Hart’s Rules and Chicago likes a space either side.

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