Are You A Dot-Dot-Dot Ellipsis Bully?

The Misused and Abused Ellipsis

You've seen the dot-dot-dot used, abused and overused in many hubs, in online and offline articles and all other vehicles prepared for writers.

It looks something like:

  1. ...
  2. or . . .
  3. and/or . ...
  4. and sometimes [. . .]

These 3, sequential dots are collectively known as the "ELLIPSIS".

I love the ellipsis...but right here and now, I admit I am an ellipsis bully.

It's true. I abuse and push those small, defenseless dots around at will.

I'm not alone in my abuse of the dots.

Many ellipsis bullies, like myself, lurk, armed to the max with incorrect punctuation knowledge as our weapon of choice. We sit ready, willing and able to whup the livin' daylights out of these innocent, orbital symbols.

Throughout this article, I hope to restore the once highly-esteemed ellipsis back, at the very least, to some semblance of its correct décor. ...

The ellipsis has morphed from strictly representing missing words in a quotation
("Four score and seven years ago [. . .] conceived in liberty.") to just about any need a writer deems necessary.

  • (Pre-conclusion) ...Thanks for reading this hub.
  • (Inside the introduction) Thanks for reading this hub...I believe you will find it interesting.
  • (Post-conclusion) In conclusion, thanks for reading this Hub...
  • (As an element of surprise) I didn't think he would pull that trigger . . . but he did!
  • (A total change of direction) Enough about chain saws...let's take a look at electric eels.

Many examples abound, and ellipsis bullies take pleasure in destroying 'da dots...as I just did.

Even TV Screen Crawl Headline Writers Are Ellipsis Bullies!

The Proper Usage

Proper punctuation usage says the ellipsis is used in only 3 writing situations:

  1. To show a portion of speech has been removed from a sentence.
  2. Used at the beginning of a sentence, the 3 dots evoke an emotion of impending sadness.
  3. When inserted at the end of a sentence, the ellipsis indicates an entrance to silence.

An ellipsis is also commonly used in math—for example: 1,2,3 . . . 100. In this case, the ellipsis indicates continuation of the count.

  • I began noticing other dotting situations when Internet marketing began its boom some 10 years ago. SEO copywriters found the inline symbols to be an attractive insertion to show subject continuity.
  • As readers became 'writers', these newcomers really began beating the stuffing out of the ellipsis, abusing and torturing it for any and every imaginable copywriting situation.

These 2 events ushered in the era of Ellipsis Bullying, circa 2003.

The em Dash

A perfectly acceptable alternative to using the ellipse within a sentence is the em dash. This punctuation mark, shown within the parenthesis, (—) is found within the HubPages editor—it's also readily available in MS Word and most other word processing software programs.

How To Stop Ellipsis Bullying

I'm afraid it's much too late for an intervention. Writers, spanning our planet, have stolen this punctuation for their individual usage, and the mauling is now too severe for restoration.

However, this is not necessarily an evil overthrow.

As I wrote earlier, I love the 3 dots and I will continue to use them to suit my needs, because, after all, I did confess that I am an ellipsis bully.

Having plead guilty, my self-imposed rehab program now includes employing proper ellipsis styling in all of my future writings . . . from this point—forward!

Following are the correct guidelines:

  1. When used inside a sentence, the correct style is space, dot, space, dot, space, dot, space, or:
    I'm going to the store . . . will be back soon.
  2. When placed at the end of a sentence, the styling should look as following:
    And this is the end. ...
    Notice the dots do NOT contain spacing as shown in example 1, and a total of 4 dots appear to represent the period--space--3 consecutive dots.
  3. If you are using a quote with words removed within your sentence, brackets should surround the ellipse:
    "Ask not what [ . . . ] can do."

These 3 rules will cover most all of your ellipsis styling needs.

Medulla oblongota . . . by the wordsmith. ...

A Final Word For Ellipsis Bullies Everywhere

Go ahead . . . keep on picking on the 3 dot punctuation mark. I certainly will not change your mind with this article, and I will continue to plead guilty as charged for the same crime as well.

But as long as we continue to maim our circular-shaped trio, the very least we should do is help heal their wounds by dressing them in proper styling—wouldn't you agree? ...

© 2012 James Ranka

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Comments 4 comments

Jack Hennigan profile image

Jack Hennigan 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Thanks for posting this. I was worried I was the only person who thought this.


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks Jack . . . appreciate your comment!


Media Magnate Mom profile image

Media Magnate Mom 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi, my name is Debora... and I'm an ellipsis bully. ;) I fear aspiring, current and former TV journalist are perhaps the most monumental perpetrators of this crime. Love this hub! Can't wait for your next.


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Haha, Love your opening statement! Maybe I should have created EBA--Ellipsis Bullies Anonymous for this Hub. Thanks for reading AND the very creative comment!

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