TypeTalk: Ellipsis Etiquette
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Q. What is the proper way to insert an ellipsis in print and in email?
A. First, let’s clear up the terminology, which can be confusing:
ellipsis: a set of three evenly spaced dots that indicates an omission or a pause in text
ellipses: the plural form of the above
ellipse: an oval shape
To add the ellipsis punctuation mark to text, hit Option-semicolon (Mac) or Alt-0133 (Windows). You can also create an ellipsis by typing three periods. The advantage of this method is that you can alter the spacing of the dots using tracking, which is particularly useful when a font's ellipsis appears too tight or too open. In most fonts, the ellipsis is made from three periods, but the spacing of these periods can vary from font to font (Figure 1).
Figure 1. The actual ellipsis character (left) may vary from an ellipsis you create with three periods (right). From top, the typefaces are Adobe Jenson Pro, TypeCulture Alphatier, ITC Adderville, MT Bernard Condensed, and MT Festival Titling.
In email, it's safer to stick with three periods rather than the actual ellipsis to avoid the possibility of the ellipsis character turning into nonsense during transmission.
Confused about whether to add spaces around an ellipsis? Read about it in "Ellipsis Confusion."
Love type? Want to know more? Ilene Strizver conducts her acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at email@example.com. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.thetypestudio.com.