Re: Ellipsis

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Fri Jan 20 2006 - 01:30:49 CST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Ellipsis"

    On Thu, 19 Jan 2006, David Starner wrote:

    > On 1/18/06, Andreas Prilop <> wrote:
    >> An ellipsis is no more a sequence of three periods than
    >> a double quotation mark is a pair of single quotation marks.
    >> They are just different things.
    > Why? According to Wikipedia (,
    > the Chicago Manual of Style makes a difference between an omission
    > within a sentence and one between sentences, and puts more space
    > between the periods in the second, thus making a single ellipsis
    > character unusable.

    It is pointless to cite Wikipedia as anything else than a collection of
    anonymous writings with no stability. In particular, instead of rephrasing
    what Wikipedia says about a book, you should check the book.

    In reality, the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, describes two
    methods of using ellipsis points. The first one uses three dots
    points in all cases, whereas the other one uses three or four dots
    depending on what has been omitted. In both methods, the dots are
    spaced, so using three period characters as such would not be suitable
    (but the book does not discuss how the spacing should be achieved).
    This, as most the book, applies to the English language. It also
    describes, as I have mentioned in this discussion, a practice of using
    three unspaced periods in some languages.

    Thus, far from making the horizontal character unusable, this raises
    the question whether the four-dots ellipsis should be coded, too.
    At present, if you follow the three-or-four-dots methods, you would
    apparently need to use a horizontal ellipsis character followed by a full
    stop character (in plain text, that is - in styled text, you could use
    four full stop characters with spacing instructions, though this probably
    gets awkward). Or maybe in the opposite order, though then the odds of
    getting poor typographic result are higher. The main practical problem
    with this is that there is no guarantee that the style of the full stop
    and the style of the horizontal ellipsis match. In some common fonts they
    do (e.g., in Times New Roman, the dots look evenly spaced and similar),
    but e.g. in Lucida Sans Unicode, the full stop is a noticeably bigger dot
    than the ellipsis points. In monospace fonts, the result is rather awful,
    but that's to be expected.

    The point here is not whether the four-dots ellipsis is good style or not.
    What should matter in this context is whether it is actually used as a
    consistent method, and I have no reason to doubt the Manual in this

    > I've personally never conceptualized an ellipsis
    > as anything more than a series of periods or asterisks (which does
    > appear.)

    That does not prevent other people from seeing it as something different.
    One man's character sequence can be his neighor's character, and one
    culture's glyph difference can be its neighor's character difference.

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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