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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