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  1. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    Punctuation Spaces between ellipses, or not?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by BlitzGirl, Nov 7, 2018.

    Some word count programs built into different writing programs, websites, etc., seem to treat ellipses (. . .) differently. Some seem to count each dot as a word when a space is placed between them, which makes, say, my word count in FictionPress much higher than what Microsoft Word counts. So, that brings the question...

    When typing a piece of fiction, is it standard to have a space between each dot in an ellipses, or to leave no spaces? I only add spaces because, aesthetically speaking, it looks better. But when I'm just typing in a forum or on Facebook, I put no spaces because I just don't care in those situations.
     
  2. Nariac

    Nariac Senior Member

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    I use Microsoft Word and when I type the three dots it autocorrects it into having single spaces between them, so I just use that since I figure mother word knows best.

    I honestly think it doesn't matter either way. People will know what the three dots mean, and if they don't, then they should!
     
  3. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, ellipses have spaces around the dots. The only exception being if there's another bit of punctuation after the ellipses, then you can forgo the last space and go straight into your question mark or exclamation point or interrobang, or whatever.
     
  4. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    Honestly, I always think it looks "wrong" to have no space between the last dot of an ellipses and an exclamation point or question mark. I always write it out as ". . . ?" because ". . .?" looks just so weird to my eyes. :/ And that's also how I tend to see it written out anyway.
     
  5. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    The spaces are not technically necessary when you type but they look better with spaces, so Word is making them pretty for you.
     
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    According to the Chicago Style Manual, periods have no spaces between them, and various rules for spaces and other punctuation before them. But that is speaking mostly for omitted parts of quotes. I use the ellipsis in dialogue to indicate a pause in speaking "I don't know ... what do you think?"

    Formerly, I did not include a space before and after, but an editor suggested I should, and I have done so on the sequel to my book, but it appears to be largely a choice. Spaces between periods seems to be not IAW the Chicago Style Manual, and I would found them distracting to read.
     
  7. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    While APA and MLA both say they're spaced, so I guess it depends on what style guide you're using.
     
  8. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    I don't follow any style, I just go off of what either a) looks good on the typed page or b) what I've seen in published novels I've read that I liked. Like @Lew , I also only use ellipses in fiction when showing either a pause in dialogue, or someone's voice trailing off at the end of a sentence to indicate uncertainty, dread, etc.
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    This is interesting for people living in the UK in particular:

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/exercises/grammar/grammar_tutorial/page_25.htm

    It's talking mostly about ellipses in quoted material, although it does mention the extended thought/trailing off usage as well.

    But apparently there should be a space BEFORE and a space AFTER the three dots, but none between the dots. Furthermore, there is a shortcut on Microsoft that produces ellipses, ready-made. I can't test it because I don't use Microsoft, but it's worth a look.

    Another thing I remember reading a while back is that when ellipses end sentences, there should be a mark of punctuation at the end. Either a question mark ( ...? ), an exclamation mark ( ...! ) or a full stop/period ( ....). It should never just be three dots.
     
  10. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    Nope :supercool:Well, question mark is alright because you can trail a thought and still end up with a question. Having an unfinished thought and an exclamation is difficult to imagine and the full stop is just plain wrong because by definition those two are incompatible.
    :fight:
     
  11. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    I use ellipses + exclamation point in dialogue to indicate a specific tone of voice which may change based on the situation. It's not something I do very often, and it's hard to explain. I also am unsure how good it looks to have four dots in a row for the end of a trailing sentence. Hell, even the opening crawls of Star Wars films flip-flop between doing ". . ." and ". . . .", so...I guess it's still quite debatable.
     
  12. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    The full stop/period is different from ellipsis points. The full stop/period indicates the end of a sentence, same as a question mark or an exclamation mark. The ellipsis is a different entity, as the article makes clear—and it can be used within a sentence as well as at the end of one. If you omit the fourth 'dot' at the end of a sentence, it's unclear that the sentence has ended. The fourth dot does make logical sense. I know, I was surprised myself to find this out myself, but now I do use the fourth dot, when I'm ending the sentence with a trail-off ellipsis.

    Edited: Ah, I just found a source of this information, and surprise surprise, its from a US publication. Webster's Compact Writer's Guide, ISBN 0-87779-187-2.

    The Bristol University grammar site is also very clear about the three dots NOT having a space between, but rather a space before and a space after. Again, this might be a UK thing rather than a USA thing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  13. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    Yeah, really does sound region-based. British English and American English are quite different with specific grammar and spelling rules. I am American, if that means anything. But it's been so rare for me to see any ellipses in fiction without spaces between them and the following punctuation (?, !) and I can't say that I've seen four dots at the end of a sentence too often. As I mentioned in an earlier post, even Star Wars can't decide if their sentences at the end of the intro crawl are three or four dots!
     
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  14. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would guess that ellipsis punctuation is one of those things that doesn't have a firm rule regarding formatting. However, you wouldn't want your ellipsis (which comes at the end of a line of text) to be split with one dot at the end of one line and two dots starting the next, would you? I think this could be a danger if you use a space between each dot. It is important to remember that an ellipsis (three dots) is a separate mark of punctuation in its own right. It's not three full stops/periods in a row without a sentence in between. So it makes sense (to me, and to Webster's) to add a period at the end of a sentence that ends with an ellipsis. However, there's nothing wrong with experimenting. OR simply asking any publisher you want to submit to what their guidelines are.
     
  15. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    I just tried playing around with Word, and it honestly wants to count each ellipses with a space between as a single word, which is something I don't want because punctuation are NOT words, and it makes my documents look "bigger" than they really are. But taking the spaces away from the ellipses can make a pause between two words (like...this) count as ONE word instead of TWO. Either way, my word counts are going to be inaccurate, I guess.
     
  16. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    They always are. I usually just rough estimate at 250-300 words per double spaced page at 12 point Courier. Publishers have their own system of working out how long a story is that takes into account white space and punctuation that's completely separate from how Word handles it anyway.
     
  17. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    You do realize that there's a difference between how your MS is typed and how a book is printed, right? Besides, you can always reach for the 10 nearest books and have a look at how the elipses look there (if you find differences, the one with most examples wins!) :agreed:
     
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  18. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    For MS Word, use alt+ctl+. to insert a non-breaking ellipse. Word will not put an new line in the middle of the periods. Though I have not seen it do that to my three periods, either.
     
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  19. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    I believe it is a stylistic choice. I have seen it both ways in the books I have
    read. Though I prefer to keep them together, you can space them out if you
    like. :)
     
  20. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I been writing..? for my entire life. At least I can die in some peace knowing it was....?
     
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  21. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

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    This feels like something that shouldn’t matter in a manuscript. Do publishers have an opinion on this? I’d just write whatever works best in the text editor for a manuscript. If self publishing, I’d use whatever looks best on the platform published to. For example who knows how Kindle handles newlines when you have the spaces.
     
  22. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    This is just for fun (my writing), with no intent on publication, but it's one of those questions I've always had since there always seems to be a discrepancy. I just wish that Word and other programs, sites, etc. didn't count ellipses as extra words! Personally, adding a space between each dot looks better, but I've been wanting to know if there are other ways of doing it without being "incorrect". Sounds like there really is no right or wrong way, just personal preference.
     
  23. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    Like 90 percent (%) of the English language. My country does it one way, another country does it another. And then there's American . . . .
     
  24. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I am probably right. I did a lot of educaton.

    hoh
     
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  25. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    Trust me, some days I wish I wasn't American due to how many spelling, grammar, etc. differences we have with British English! Not that any of the differences are "wrong", of course, it just is "right" or "wrong" depending on the audience. Though I am guilty of using a few British versions of words simply due to them sounding better to me ("towards" vs "toward", for example, and I just love the word "whilst" even if I don't use it in my writing).
     

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