Editing · Formatting · Writing

How To Format The Ellipsis

Formatting the ellipsis can be tricky. Are there spaces before or after an ellipsis? Or none at all? Should it be spaced out or not? Well, the quick answer is it depends on which style guide you are using. Different style guides format the ellipsis differently, which can cause confusion since the ellipsis isn’t formatted the same across styles. In this post I’ll be focusing on AP and Chicago style since those are the most common style guides used for fiction and nonfiction books. Some publishing houses might use one or the other, or even a combination of the two.

According to Chicago Style, the ellipsis is preceded and followed by a space along with a space between each period.

Chicago: Move it that way some more . . . perfect.

Now in that example there is a space before, after, and in between each period. Now let’s see the same sentence in AP style, which doesn’t space the periods out.

AP: Move it that way some more … perfect.

In AP style, there are spaces before and after, but not in between the periods. To keep your formatting uniform, it’s a good idea to pick a style guide and follow it, so you would just follow the ellipsis spacing for your preferred style. Or you may follow Chicago, and prefer the ellipsis formatting of AP, which is fine. Now, publishing houses often have their own preferences on how to space the ellipsis. Some may not include any spaces at all, for example: Move it that way some more…perfect.

If you include any of the spaces around the ellipsis, then you may want to consider using nonbreaking spaces to keep the ellipsis from breaking across lines. You can insert a nonbreaking space in Microsoft word by hitting Ctrl+Shift+spacebar

If you are unsure of how to format the ellipsis in your manuscript, my advice is to pick a style guide and follow that formatting. Don’t worry about it beyond that. If a publishing house prefers to format their ellipsis differently than how you have them formatted in your manuscript, they will change the formatting. If you are a self-published author hiring an editor, then let your editor know which way you prefer the ellipsis to be formatted if you have a specific preference so that they don’t change the formatting. If you wish to use the ellipsis button in Microsoft Word, hit Ctrl+Alt+.


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