If the ellipsis has invaded your copy … read this

The author’s overuse of the ellipsis has affected not only her text messaging, but also her business writing. She explains when the punctuation should be used.

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In my own texting, I’ve begun to notice that I use ellipses excessively. “While I’m thinking about it … can you please check that link.” “Parent-teacher conference … 10 a.m. … Wednesday.”

I’ve even caught myself misusing the ellipsis at work. Wait a minute, did I just write “Meeting canceled … Stacey was a no-show … Rescheduled for Friday” in an email to my boss?

My overuse of this punctuation mark in my personal writing has made me curious about the rules for the use of ellipses in formal writing. Here’s what I’ve found. (Inspired by last week’s Google Doodle celebrating Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday, the examples below are taken from A Christmas Carol. No Tiny Tim quotes, I promise.)

• Ellipses are three spaced dots (….) generally used to indicate omission of one or more words, lines, paragraphs, or data from quoted material. For instance: “Marley was dead, to begin with. … Old Marley was dead as a door-nail.” (This example has three dots for the ellipsis and one for the period at the end of the first sentence.)

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