The Excellent Ellipsis (…)

The ellipsis, a punctuation mark that employs three consecutive periods (…), is used when intentionally omitting a word, phrase, or paragraph within quoted text. When summarizing information or writing articles, it is occasionally necessary to include direct quotes from your research.  You may not, however, always want to use long sentences that not only take up space, but may contain useless or irrelevant information.

When you use an ellipsis, you can take out the information that isn’t necessary while maintaining the integrity of the quoted text. For example, let’s consider a sentence from the latest AIR Blog entry “More than 200 sacred objects that were in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian were returned last week to the Yurok Tribe in northern California, as reported in an Associated Press piece published by the Times Leader on Aug. 15.”  To eliminate the excess text and indicate that some text was omitted from the sentence, we would use an ellipsis:

“More than 200 sacred objects… were returned last week to the Yurok Tribe in northern California, as reported in an Associated Press piece published by the Times Leader on Aug. 15.”

If you want to omit words at the end of a sentence, you would include an ellipsis and then an additional period. Let’s consider the same sentence, but this time leave off “as reported in an Associated Press piece published by the Times Leader on Aug. 15.”

“More than 200 sacred objects that were in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian were returned last week to the Yurok Tribe in northern California… .”

Although you may not use an ellipse in everyday emails or memos, it is important to keep in mind when writing documents or presentations that require you to cite or quote important information.

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