Elliptical periods, more commonly called an ellipsis, indicate the omission of text or an interruption or hesitation. While it is quite common to use three periods, the more typographically desirable way to insert an ellipsis is to use the ellipsis character available in most fonts or create a custom ellipsis. In both cases, some finetuning of your ellipses is often necessary.
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- Most fonts have a built-in ellipsis character. Create an ellipsis with Option-semicolon (Mac) or ALT 0133 (Windows) hold the ALT key and type 0133 on the numeric keypad. However, it generally will need adjusting for best appearance.
- Some designers prefer to create their own ellipses in order to more fully control the spacing. Use periods with thin spaces between the periods. No space is too little, a full space is too much for typeset text.
- Use periods with full spaces but use kerning or tracking to reduce the spacing. Use the non-breaking space feature of your software to keep from having these custom ellipses break mid-character at the end of lines.
- Because the ellipsis character in a font spaces out the periods more than using three individual periods, if the elliptical periods are followed by another period it may be necessary in some fonts to kern the ellipsis and the period or other ending punctuation to achieve uniform spacing.
- If necessary, kern the ellipsis (from the font or custom-created) and the characters preceding and following it to add a small amount of space. Don't use the space bar, that is usually too much space.
- In HTML, use & #0133; for
(ampersand-no space, pound sign, number, semi-colon) or the Unicode numeric entity of & #8230; (no spaces). Although many sites forgo curly quotes and other special characters, using the ellipsis character on a Web page can help prevent instances of having the periods show up on separate lines when viewers resize browser windows since it is a single character.
- All this attention to carefully spacing an ellipsis may seem like overkill. For body text it may well be for most publications. However, for best appearance always use carefully crafted ellipses within display size text such as headlines and pull-quotes.
- Refer to the instructions for your specific software on how to insert thin spaces and non-breaking spaces.
- Some people believe an ellipsis is actually four periods. That fourth period is not part of the ellipsis. It's a separate punctuation mark, sometimes called for, sometimes not. An ellipsis is not five, six, seven or more periods.
- The classic ellipsis is actually four spaces separated by three periods. The space at the beginning or end provides spacing between the ellipsis character and preceding or following text, including punctuation.
- Ellipses is the plural for ellipsis.