An ellipsis (...) is a set of three periods that indicates the omission of words from quoted material or can be used to show a pause in a conversation.
This guide shows when to use an ellipsis and how to punctuate around an ellipsis.
When to use an ellipsis
- Use an ellipsis to omit information from a direct quote.
You may have a long quote that contains words or phrases that do not provide useful information. You can use an ellipsis to remove some of the unneeded words. However, DO NOT omit words in order to change the original meaning or intent of the original author. Take care to preserve the original meaning of the quote. When removing words at the beginning or end of a quote, you do not need to provide an ellipsis--only use when omitting words from the middle of a quoted sentence.
- Michael reminded us, “The school day at all schools … begins at 8:30 a.m.”
- Use an ellipsis to omit whole sentences from quoted sentences.
With quoted material, use an ellipsis to indicate that a whole sentence or more or a whole paragraph or more has been omitted between the sentences you chose to use. Again, be careful to preserve the original ideas and intent of the author. Be sure to include the end-of-sentence punctuation along with the ellipsis.
- The instructor stated, “First, make certain you take notes at all the workshops. Transcribe your notes while the material is still fresh in your mind. ... Finally, always date your notes.”
- Use an ellipsis in dialogue as a pause in the conversation.
Use an ellipsis in conversational or fictional writing to indicate hesitation or trailing off in dialogue or train of thought.
- Hmmm ... I'm not sure. Let me check.
- Rachel does not want to go, but ... why?
How to punctuate around an ellipsis or omitted words
- The ellipsis itself can be 3 dots without any spaces (...)OR it can be 3 dots with spaces between each (. . .). APA does not have a preference for this.
- When used in a sentence to omit words or to show a pause, include a space before and after the ellipsis (word ... word)
- You can change the capitalization of a word from a quote to fit the correct capitalization for your sentence. For example, the direct quote "As I have always believed, the power of the mind should be considered" can be changed to "The power of the mind should be considered," according to Powell (2023).