Ellipsis marks . . . spaced or not . . . that is the question

It seems that schools these days are teaching young lawyers to leave out the space between the ellipsis marks or perhaps they are being taught that strategy as a space saving maneuver for the briefs that have page limits. I regularly see the ellipsis marks squished together with no spaces. The ellipsis marks – periods with spaces before and after each period (. . .) – are used where quoted material is not included to show where that material has been left out. Perhaps the new spaceless ellipsis mark is because they are learning the shortcut in Word to insert ellipsis marks, but without spaces. My “go to” grammar reference manual says there should be spaces, so don’t get caught up in leaving spaces out because Microsoft says it is OK.

To review when to use ellipsis marks, if the writer is leaving words out of a direct quotation, use ellipsis marks. If the omitted language is at the end of a regular sentence, use the ellipsis marks followed by the punctuation needed to end the sentence. For instance if the complete sentence is a question, you would include the ellipsis marks, with spaces, a space after the last ellipsis mark, and then a question mark. For instance, “Can someone explain the process . . . ?” (The original question was “Can someone explain the process used to solve this problem?”)

If the omitted language is between sentences in the quoted paragraph, use the ending punctuation for the first sentence, space and ellipsis marks, and then the next sentence. For example, “The research was done on Black Friday shopping at the mall. . . . The shoppers last year were rude and exhausted.” If, however, you are using just a portion of a quote within a sentence, use just quotation marks and not ellipsis marks as long as the quoted section is complete.

Ellipsis marks are a valuable tool for making sure quotations are correct and reflected accurately. Without ellipsis marks, you would have to either include entire quotations or a reader wouldn’t know for sure that it is not an exact quotation. Just be sure that the writer is not omitting a critical part of the quotation, ellipsis marks or not. You need to make sure that partial quotations being used don’t leave something critical out that might be against the purpose for the quotation in your document. That might give your opponent all the ammunition he needs to ruin your lawyer’s reputation with that judge forever.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.