apostrophe ( ’ ' )
brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dash ( , –, —, ― )
ellipsis ( …, ..., . . . )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( )
hyphen-minus ( - )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ”, ' ', " " )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/stroke ( / )
solidus ( )
Word dividers
space ( ) ( ) ( ) (␠) (␢) (␣)
interpunct ( · )
General typography
ampersand ( & )
at sign ( @ )
asterisk ( * )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( )
caret ( ^ )
copyright symbol ( © )
dagger ( †, ‡ )
degree ( ° )
ditto mark ( )
inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
inverted question mark ( ¿ )
number sign/pound/hash ( # )
numero sign ( )
obelus ( ÷ )
ordinal indicator ( º, ª )
percent etc. ( %, ‰, )
pilcrow ( )
prime ( ′, ″, ‴ )
registered trademark ( ® )
section sign ( § )
service mark ( )
sound recording copyright ( )
tilde ( ~ )
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underscore/understrike ( _ )
vertical/broken bar, pipe ( ¦, | )
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Uncommon typography
asterism ( )
tee ( )
up tack ( )
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therefore sign ( )
because sign ( )
interrobang ( )
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non-English quotation style ( « », „ ” )
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Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission" or "falling short") is a series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word, sentence or whole section from the original text being quoted. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech or any other form of text, but it is incorrect to use an ellipses solely to indicate a pause in speech.

The most common form of an ellipsis is a row of three periods or full stops (...) or a pre-composed triple-dot glyph (). The usage of the em dash (—) can overlap the usage of the ellipsis.

The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, dot-dot-dot.


In writing

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, ellipsis was often used when a writer intentionally omitted a specific proper noun, such as a location: "Jan was born on ... Street in Warsaw."

An ellipsis may also imply an unstated alternative indicated by context. For example, when Count Dracula says "I never drink ... wine", the implication is that he does drink something else.

In reported speech, the ellipsis is sometimes used to represent an intentional silence, perhaps indicating irritation, dismay, shock or disgust. This usage is more common amongst younger, Internet-savvy generations.[citation needed]

In poetry, this is used to highlight sarcasm or make the reader think about the last points in the poem. "This is a Happy Warrior, This is he..."

In news reporting, it is used to indicate that a quotation has been condensed for space, brevity or relevance.

Across different languages

In English

In legal writing in the United States, Rule 5.3 in the Bluebook citation guide governs the use of ellipsis and requires a space before the first dot and between the two subsequent dots. If an ellipsis ends the sentence, then there are three dots, each separated by a space, followed by the final punctuation, unless the final mark of punctuation is also a period.

The Chicago Manual of Style suggests the use of an ellipsis for any omitted word, phrase, line, or paragraph from within a quoted passage. There are two commonly used methods of using ellipses: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second one makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: . . .) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . ...). An ellipsis at the end of a sentence with no sentence following should be preceded by a period (for a total of four dots). The Modern Language Association (MLA), however, used to indicate that an ellipsis must include spaces before and after each dot in all uses. If an ellipsis is meant to represent an omission, square brackets must surround the ellipsis to make it clear that there was no pause in the original quote: [ . . . ]. Currently, the MLA has removed the requirement of brackets in its style handbooks. However, some maintain that the use of brackets is still correct because it clears confusion.[1]

According to the Associated Press, the ellipsis should be used to condense quotations. It is less-commonly used to indicate a pause in speech or an unfinished thought or to separate items in material such as show business gossip. The stylebook indicates that if the shortened sentence before the mark can stand as a sentence, it should do so, with an ellipsis placed after the period or other ending punctuation. When material is omitted at the end of a paragraph and also immediately following it, an ellipsis goes both at the end of that paragraph and in front of the beginning of the next, according to this style.[2]

According to Robert Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style, the details of typesetting ellipsis depend on the character and size of the font being set and the typographer's preference. Bringhurst writes that a full space between each dot is "another Victorian eccentricity. In most contexts, the Chicago ellipsis is much too wide"—he recommends using flush dots, or thin-spaced dots (up to one-fifth of an em), or the prefabricated ellipsis character (Unicode U+2026, Latin entity …). Bringhurst suggests that normally, an ellipsis should be spaced fore-and-aft to separate it from the text, but when it combines with other punctuation, the leading space disappears and the other punctuation follows. This is the usual practice in typesetting. He provides the following examples:

i … j k…. l…, l l, … l m…? n…!

In Polish

When applied in Polish language syntax, the ellipsis is called wielokropek, which means "multidot". The word wielokropek distinguishes the ellipsis of Polish syntax from that of mathematical notation, in which it is known as an elipsa.

When an ellipsis replaces a fragment omitted from a quotation, the ellipsis is enclosed in parentheses or square brackets. An unbracketed ellipsis indicates an interruption or pause in speech.

The syntactical rules for ellipses are standardized by the 1983 Polska Norma document PN-83/P-55366, Zasady składania tekstów w języku polskim ("Rules for setting texts in the Polish Language").

In Japanese

The most common character corresponds to an ellipsis is are called 3-ten rīdā ("3-dot leaders", ). 2-ten rīdā exists as a character, but it is used less commonly. In writing, the ellipsis consists usually of six dots (two 3-ten rīdā characters, ……). Three dots (one 3-ten rīdā character) may be used where space is limited, such as in a header. However, variations in the number of dots exist. In horizontally written text the dots are commonly vertically centered within the text height (between the baseline and the ascent line), as in the standard Japanese Windows fonts; in vertically written text the dots are always centered horizontally. As the Japanese word for dot is pronounced "ten", the dots are colloquially called "ten-ten-ten" (てんてんてん, akin to the English "dot dot dot").

In Japanese manga, the ellipsis by itself represents speechlessness, or a "pregnant pause". Given the context, this could be anything from an admission of guilt to an expression of being dumbfounded at another person's words or actions. As a device, the ten-ten-ten is intended to focus the reader on a character while allowing the character to not speak any dialogue. This conveys to the reader a focus of the narrative "camera" on the silent subject, implying an expectation of some motion or action. It is not unheard of to see inanimate objects "speaking" the ellipsis.[3]

In Chinese

In Chinese, the ellipsis is six dots (in two groups of three dots, occupying the same horizontal space as two characters) (i.e. ……). The dots are always centered within the baseline and the ascender when horizontal (on the baseline has become acceptable)[citation needed] and centered horizontally when vertical.

In mathematical notation

An ellipsis is also often used in mathematics to mean "and so forth". In a list, between commas, or following a comma, a normal ellipsis is used, as in:


To indicate the omission of values in a repeated operation, an ellipsis raised to the center of the line is used between two operation symbols or following the last operation symbol, as in:


(though sometimes, for example, in Russian mathematical texts, normal, non-raised, ellipses are used even in repeated summations[4]).

The latter formula means the sum of all natural numbers from 1 to 100. However, it is not a formally defined mathematical symbol. Repeated summations or products may similarly be denoted using capital sigma and capital pi notation, respectively:

1+2+3+\cdots+100\ = \sum_{n=1}^{100} n
1 \times 2 \times 3 \times \cdots \times 100\ = \prod_{n=1}^{100} n = 100! (see factorial)

Normally dots should be used only where the pattern to be followed is clear, the exception being to show the indefinite continuation of an irrational number such as:


Sometimes, it is useful to display a formula compactly, for example:


Another example is the set of zeros of the cosine function.

\left\{\pm\frac{\pi}{2}, \pm\frac{3\pi}{2}, \pm\frac{5\pi}{2}, \ldots \right\}\,.

There are many related uses of the ellipsis in set notation.

The diagonal and vertical forms of the ellipsis are particularly useful for showing missing terms in matrices, such as the size-n identity matrix

I_n = \begin{bmatrix}1 & 0 & \cdots & 0 \\0 & 1 & \cdots & 0 \\\vdots & \vdots & \ddots & \vdots \\0 & 0 & \cdots & 1 \end{bmatrix}.

The use of ellipses in mathematical proofs is often discouraged because of the potential for ambiguity. For this reason, and because the ellipsis supports no systematic rules for symbolic calculation, in recent years some authors have recommended avoiding its use in mathematics altogether.[5]

Computer interfaces and programming

Ellipses are often used in an operating system's taskbars or web browser tabs to indicate longer titles than will fit. Hovering the cursor over the tab often shows a pop-up balloon of the full title. When many programs are open, or during a "tab explosion" in web browsing, the tabs may be reduced in size so much that no characters from the actual titles show, and ellipses take up all the space besides the program icon or favicon.

In many user interface guidelines, a "…" after the name of a command implies that the user will need to provide further information, for example in a subsequent dialog box, before the action can be completed. A typical example is the Save As… command, which after being clicked will usually require the user to enter a filename, as opposed to Save where the file will usually be saved under its existing name.

An ellipsis character after a status message signifies that an operation may take some time, as in "Downloading updates…".

The ellipsis is used as an operator in some programming languages. The precise meaning varies by language, but it generally involves something dealing with multiple items. See Ellipsis (programming operator).

On the Internet and in text messaging

The ellipsis is one of the favorite constructions of Internet chat rooms, and it has evolved over the past ten years into a staple of text-messaging. Although an ellipsis is technically complete with three periods (...), its rise in popularity as a "trailing-off" or "silence" indicator, particularly in mid-20th century comic strip and comic book prose writing, has led to expanded uses online. It has been used in new ways online, sometimes at the end of a message "to signal that the rest of the message is forthcoming."[6]

Today, extended ellipsis of two, seven, ten, or even dozens of periods have become common constructions in Internet chat rooms and text messages.[7] Often, the extended ellipses indicate an awkward silence or a "no comment" response to the previous statement made by the other party. They are sometimes used jokingly or for emphatic confusion about what the other person has said.[citation needed]

The incorrect use of "elliptical commas", or commas used in plurality for the effect of ellipsis or multiple ellipsis, has also grown in popularity online—although no style journal or manual has yet embraced them.[citation needed]

Computer representations

In computing, several ellipsis characters have been codified, depending on the system used.

In the Unicode standard, there are the following characters:

Name Character Unicode HTML Entity Name Use
Horizontal Ellipsis U+2026 … General
Laotian Ellipsis U+0EAF General
Mongolian Ellipsis U+1801 General
Thai Ellipsis U+0E2F General
Vertical Ellipsis U+22EE Mathematics
Midline Horizontal Ellipsis U+22EF Mathematics
Up-Right Diagonal Ellipsis U+22F0 Mathematics
Down-Right Diagonal Ellipsis U+22F1 Mathematics

In Windows, it can be inserted with ALT+0133.

In the Mac OS, it can be inserted with OPTION+; (on an English language keyboard).

In Chinese and sometimes in Japanese, ellipsis characters are done by entering[clarification needed] two consecutive horizontal ellipsis (U+2026). In vertical texts, the application should rotate the symbol accordingly.

Unicode recognizes a series of three period characters (U+002E) as compatibility equivalent (though not canonical) to the horizontal ellipsis character.[8]

In HTML, the horizontal ellipsis character may be represented by the entity reference … (since HTML 4.0). Alternatively, in HTML, XML, and SGML, a numeric character reference such as … or … can be used.

In the TeX typesetting system, the following types of ellipsis are available:

Character TeX markup
Lower ellipsis \ldots\,\! \ldots
Centred ellipsis \cdots\,\! \cdots
Diagonal ellipsis \ddots\,\! \ddots
Vertical ellipsis \vdots\,\! \vdots
Up-Right Diagonal Ellipsis Iddots black.svg \reflectbox{\ddots}

The horizontal ellipsis character also appears in the following older character maps:

  • in Windows-1250—Windows-1258 and in IBM/MS-DOS Code page 874, at code 85 (hexadecimal)
  • in Mac-Roman, Mac-CentEuro and several other Macintosh encodings, at code C9 (hexadecimal)
  • in Ventura International encoding at code C1 (hexadecimal)

Note that ISO/IEC 8859 encoding series provides no code point for ellipsis.

As with all characters, especially those outside of the ASCII range, the author, sender and receiver of an encoded ellipsis must be in agreement upon what bytes are being used to represent the character. Naive text processing software may improperly assume that a particular encoding is being used, resulting in mojibake.

The Chicago Style Q&A recommends to avoid the use of  (U+2026) character in manuscripts and to place three periods plus two nonbreaking spaces (. . .) instead, so that an editor, publisher, or designer can replace them later.[9]

In Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1), the ellipsis is used as an extension marker to indicate the possibility of type extensions in future revisions of a protocol specification. In a type constraint expression like A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) an ellipsis is used to separate the extension root from extension additions. The definition of type A in version 1 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ...) and the definition of type A in version 2 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) constitute an extension series of the same type A in different versions of the same specification. The ellipsis can also be used in compound type definitions to separate the set of fields belonging to the extension root from the set of fields constituting extension additions. Here is an example: B ::= SEQUENCE { a INTEGER, b INTEGER, ..., c INTEGER }


  1. ^ Fowler, H. Ramsey, Jane E. Aaron, Murray McArthur. The Little, Brown Handbook. Fourth Canadian Edition. Toronto: Pearson Longman. 2005. p. 440.
  2. ^ Godlstein, Norm, editor. "Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law". 2005. pp.328–329.
  3. ^ Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Miyazaki Hayao[non-primary source needed]
  4. ^ Мильчин А. Э. Издательский словарь-справочник.— Изд. 3-е, испр. и доп., Электронное — М.: ОЛМА-Пресс, 2006. (in Russian)
  5. ^ Roland Backhouse, Program Construction: Calculating Implementations from Specifications. Wiley (2003), page 138
  6. ^ Judith C. Lapadat (July 2002). "Written Interaction: A Key Component in Online Learning". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol7/issue4/lapadat.html. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  7. ^ Maness, Jack M. (2007). "The Power of Dots: Using Nonverbal Compensators in Chat Reference" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2007 Annual Meeting of ASIS&T. Annual Meeting of ASIS&T. University Libraries − University of Colorado at Boulder. http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/facultyprofiles/files/publications/ADmanessj/Maness--The%20Power%20of%20Dots%28personal%29.pdf. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  8. ^ UnicodeData.txt: 2026;HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS;Po;0;ON;<compat> 002E 002E 002E;;;;N;;;;;
  9. ^ "Chicago Style Q&A: How do I insert an ellipsis in my manuscript?". The Chicago Manual of Style, edition 16. University of Chicago Press. 2010. http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/CMS_FAQ/SpecialCharacters/SpecialCharacters09.html. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 

Further reading

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • ellipsis — 1. meaning. Ellipsis is the omission from a sentence of words which are normally needed to complete the grammatical construction or meaning. It occurs most often in everyday speech, in expressions such as Told you so (= I told you so) and Sounds… …   Modern English usage

  • ellipsis — 1560s, an ellipse, from L. ellipsis, from Gk. elleipsis a falling short, defect, ellipse, from elleipein to fall short, leave out, from en in + leipein to leave (see RELINQUISH (Cf. relinquish)). Grammatical sense first recorded 1610s …   Etymology dictionary

  • ellipsis — [e lip′sis, ilip′sis] n. pl. ellipses [i lip′sēz΄, ə lip′sēz΄] [L < Gr elleipsis: see ELLIPSE] 1. Gram. the omission of a word or words necessary for complete grammatical construction but understood in the context (Ex.: “if possible” for “if… …   English World dictionary

  • Ellipsis — El*lip sis ([e^]l*l[i^]p s[i^]s), n.; pl. {Ellipses} ([e^]l*l[i^]p s[=e]z). [L., fr. Gr. e lleipsis a leaving, defect, fr. ellei pein to leave in, fall short; en in + lei pein to leave. See {In}, and {Loan}, and cf. {Ellipse}.] 1. (Gram.)… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ellipsis — ► NOUN (pl. ellipses) 1) the omission of words from speech or writing. 2) a set of dots indicating such an omission. ORIGIN Greek elleipsis, from elleipein leave out …   English terms dictionary

  • ellipsis —  An ellipsis (sometimes called an ellipse) is used to indicate that material has been omitted. It consists of three evenly spaced periods (...) and not, as some writers think, a random scattering of them. When an ellipsis occurs at the end of a… …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • ellipsis —    An ellipsis (sometimes called an ellipse) is used to indicate that material has been omitted. It consists of three periods (...) and not, as some writers think, a random scattering of them. When an ellipsis occurs at the end of a sentence, a… …   Dictionary of troublesome word

  • ellipsis — UK [ɪˈlɪpsɪs] / US noun [uncountable] Word forms ellipsis : singular ellipsis plural ellipses UK [ɪˈlɪpsiːz] / US [ɪˈlɪpˌsɪz] linguistics the practice of leaving a word or words out of a sentence when they are not necessary for understanding it …   English dictionary

  • ellipsis — el•lip•sis [[t]ɪˈlɪp sɪs[/t]] n. pl. ses ( sēz). 1) oce gram. gram. the omission from a sentence or other construction of one or more words understandable from the context that would complete or clarify the construction, as the omission of been… …   From formal English to slang

  • ellipsis — noun (plural ellipses) Etymology: Latin, from Greek elleipsis ellipsis, ellipse, from elleipein to leave out, fall short, from en in + leipein to leave more at in, loan Date: 1540 1. a. the omission of one or more words that are obviously… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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