punctuation ellipsis

Friday, March 27, 2009

Generally you omit punctuation from either side of an ellipsis. You can get away with leaving it in (and sometimes it's better to if the sentence is confusing without it), but I prefer not to because it looks pretty unsightly.

However there are some times when it's best to keep the punctuation in--a series, for example:

Into the room walked my friend Bob,...a philanderer,...and a mopist.

Or when it helps to clarify the sentence structure. My style guide gives this example from the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to...establish Justice,...and secure the Blessings of Liberty..., do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And in case you're wondering why the comma in the second ellipsis is on the right (following Justice) and the comma in the third ellipsis is on the left (following the ellipsis), it's because you keep the punctuation of the original quote. In the original, there's a comma immediately after Justice, but not one immediately after Liberty--however, there is one after all the stuff we cut after Liberty.