If ever an Ellipsis were to run for President, what would be the platform? No more dot-to-space-ratio lawlessness, of course! Yet, enforcing the Ellipses Laws may be trickier than a politician practicing magic tricks.
The underground world of ellipses
No punctuation mark is more misunderstood or misused (might I suggest “abused?”) than the humble ellipsis.
What’s this all about?
The underground of confused ellipses began with the complicated principles of using ellipses with quoted material at the beginning of a quotation.
Or in the Middle of quoted material.
Or at the end of quoted material.
The chaos of Styles and Style Manuals
The voices are loud and contradictory, whether discussing formal or informal writing. There are sticklers who tout perfection via the noble Legal style. Others proclaim the MLA style is the only way to go. The Chicago style versus AP style, which to use? The differences are remarkable and have been known to cause yawns disturbances on college campuses.
*All right you OCD-ers out there. If you must torture yourself, click into the following styles*
As if that wasn’t confusing enough, there are style manuals with set-in-concrete goop rules.
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA),
- The Chicago Manual of Style,
- and theTexas Law Review Manual on Usage, Style & Editing
It’s enough to give a person a splitting headache.
Here’s what happened to me . . .
My first two novels contain ellipses with no spaces before, after, or in between. That’s kind of AP Style, but not really. What happened? It seems that editors/editor assistants were changing the final manuscript ellipses to what they believed to be correct, back and forth, until it finally went to print with no ellipses spaces at all (…).
Were they wrong?
Frankly, I think they should have at least put a space before or after the three dots ( … ) ala AP Style in honor of my journalism background.
Going forward, it seems to depend on the views of each particular publisher, the editors, or the high-school grammar teacher speaking through someone’s wetware (brain). In other words, there aren’t any absolutes out there except in the aforementioned Legal, Chicago, MLA, and AP styles, and in those pompous sounding style manuals, of course.
Hmm. We’re dealing with a Theory of Ellipses Relativity. I think I get it. All Absolutists exit the side doors in an orderly fashion, please.
Where I stand
This blog dares to suggest that more people agree that the space before and after and between the dots is not only Chicago Style, but also the more accepted means of indicating that a sentence (or thought) trails off in informal writing, fiction novels, or in designing our contemporary homes.
Well, okay. I just threw in the designing part so you would stay with me. One has to do that with grammar
crud discussions or minds tend to tune out.
Here are examples of the style I recommend taken from my third novel, Valley of Shadows, due to hit the shelves sometime this summer.
- And these . . .” she said, touching the ruffle-edged shells, “. . . are Hawaiian clam shells. (indicates self-interrupted speech with an action)
- I can’t understand how the Ghost Herd came in here a few minutes before me and disappeared into, well . . . air.” (indicates hesitation)
- I couldn’t believe it. She-she told me about Smiles and . . .” Birdie fell into a heap at my feet, her face disfigured in silent agony. (indicates an unfinished sentence)
Keep it simple. Add the spaces and move on. I, for one, will be happy.
Back to the Ellipsis running for President (Why? Because it’s fun!)
A campaigning Ellipsis must make it perfectly clear that, if elected, it will hire more grammar cops to ensure alleged perpetrators of chaotic dots will be rounded up and thrown into a summer-time English class taught by Ferris Bueller’s economic teacher.
And arbitrators? Gosh yes! The Ellipsis campaign must assure the public that there will always be a forum, a safe place if you will, for debate and compromise when it comes to ellipsis use. For commas . . . not so much!
Imagine that: A world run by dots.
Can we count on your vote?
You know I love to hear from you. What have ellipses done for you lately? Spill and share!