Ellipsis is a series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word, sentence or whole section from the original text being quoted. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis
Aposiopesis is a figure of speech wherein a sentence is deliberately broken off and left unfinished, the ending to be supplied by the imagination, giving an impression of unwillingness or inability to continue. An example would be the threat "Get out, or else—!" This device often portrays its...

). It can also be used at the end of a sentence to emphasize a statement. When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech or any other form of text, but it is incorrect to use an ellipses solely to indicate a pause in speech.

The most common form of an ellipsis is a row of three periods or full stops (...) or a pre-composed triple-dot glyph (). The usage of the em dash (—) can overlap the usage of the ellipsis.

The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially
A colloquialism is a word or phrase that is common in everyday, unconstrained conversation rather than in formal speech, academic writing, or paralinguistics. Dictionaries often display colloquial words and phrases with the abbreviation colloq. as an identifier...

, dot-dot-dot.

In writing

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, ellipsis was often used when a writer intentionally omitted a specific proper noun, such as a location: "Jan was born on ... Street in Warsaw."

An ellipsis may also imply an unstated alternative indicated by context. For example, when Count Dracula
Count Dracula
Count Dracula is a fictional character, the titular antagonist of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula and archetypal vampire. Some aspects of his character have been inspired by the 15th century Romanian general and Wallachian Prince Vlad III the Impaler...

 says "I never drink ... wine", the implication is that he does drink something else.

In reported speech, the ellipsis is sometimes used to represent an intentional silence, perhaps indicating irritation, dismay, shock or disgust. This usage is more common amongst younger, Internet-savvy generations.

In poetry, this is used to highlight sarcasm or make the reader think about the last points in the poem. "This is a Happy Warrior, This is he..."

In news reporting, it is used to indicate that a quotation has been condensed for space, brevity or relevance.

In English

In legal writing in the United States, Rule 5.3 in the Bluebook
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, a style guide, prescribes the most widely used legal citation system in the United States. The Bluebook is compiled by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal....

citation guide governs the use of ellipsis and requires a space before the first dot and between the two subsequent dots. If an ellipsis ends the sentence, then there are three dots, each separated by a space, followed by the final punctuation, unless the final mark of punctuation is also a period.

The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 16 editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing...

suggests the use of an ellipsis for any omitted word, phrase, line, or paragraph from within a quoted passage. There are two commonly used methods of using ellipses: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second one makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: . . .) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . ...). An ellipsis at the end of a sentence with no sentence following should be preceded by a period (for a total of four dots). The Modern Language Association
Modern Language Association
The Modern Language Association of America is the principal professional association in the United States for scholars of language and literature...

 (MLA), however, used to indicate that an ellipsis must include spaces before and after each dot in all uses. If an ellipsis is meant to represent an omission, square brackets must surround the ellipsis to make it clear that there was no pause in the original quote: [ . . . ]. Currently, the MLA has removed the requirement of brackets in its style handbooks. However, some maintain that the use of brackets is still correct because it clears confusion.

According to the Associated Press, the ellipsis should be used to condense quotations. It is less-commonly used to indicate a pause in speech or an unfinished thought or to separate items in material such as show business gossip. The stylebook indicates that if the shortened sentence before the mark can stand as a sentence, it should do so, with an ellipsis placed after the period or other ending punctuation. When material is omitted at the end of a paragraph and also immediately following it, an ellipsis goes both at the end of that paragraph and in front of the beginning of the next, according to this style.

According to Robert Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style, the details of typesetting ellipsis depend on the character and size of the font being set and the typographer's preference. Bringhurst writes that a full space between each dot is "another Victorian eccentricity. In most contexts, the Chicago ellipsis is much too wide"—he recommends using flush dots, or thin-spaced dots (up to one-fifth of an em
Em (typography)
An em is a unit of measurement in the field of typography, equal to the currently specified point size.The name of em is related to M. Originally the unit was derived from the width of the capital "M" in the given typeface....

), or the prefabricated ellipsis character (Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 U+2026, Latin entity …). Bringhurst suggests that normally, an ellipsis should be spaced fore-and-aft to separate it from the text, but when it combines with other punctuation, the leading space disappears and the other punctuation follows. This is the usual practice in typesetting. He provides the following examples:
i … j k…. l…, l l, … l m…? n…!

In Polish

When applied in Polish language
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 syntax, the ellipsis is called , which means "multidot". The word wielokropek distinguishes the ellipsis of Polish syntax from that of mathematical notation
Mathematical notation
Mathematical notation is a system of symbolic representations of mathematical objects and ideas. Mathematical notations are used in mathematics, the physical sciences, engineering, and economics...

, in which it is known as an .

When an ellipsis replaces a fragment omitted from a quotation, the ellipsis is enclosed in parentheses or square brackets. An unbracketed ellipsis indicates an interruption or pause in speech.

The syntactical rules for ellipses are standardized by the 1983 Polska Norma document PN-83/P-55366
PN-83/P-55366, Zasady składania tekstów w języku polskim , is a Polska Norma standard by Polish Committee for Standardization covering rules of typesetting used in the Polish language....

, ("Rules for setting texts in the Polish Language").

In Japanese

The most common character corresponds to an ellipsis is are called 3-ten rīdā ("3-dot leaders"). 2-ten rīdā exists as a character, but it is used less commonly. In writing, the ellipsis consists usually of six dots (two 3-ten rīdā characters). Three dots (one 3-ten rīdā character) may be used where space is limited, such as in a header. However, variations in the number of dots exist. In horizontally written text the dots are commonly vertically centered within the text height (between the baseline
Baseline (typography)
In European and West Asian typography and penmanship, the baseline is the line upon which most letters "sit" and below which descenders extend.In the example to the right, the letter 'p' has a descender; the other letters sit on the baseline....

 and the ascent line), as in the standard Japanese Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 fonts; in vertically written text the dots are always centered horizontally. As the Japanese word for dot is pronounced "", the dots are colloquially called "" .

In Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons . In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th...

, the ellipsis by itself represents speechlessness, or a "pregnant pause". Given the context, this could be anything from an admission of guilt to an expression of being dumbfounded at another person's words or actions. As a device, the ten-ten-ten is intended to focus the reader on a character while allowing the character to not speak any dialogue. This conveys to the reader a focus of the narrative "camera" on the silent subject, implying an expectation of some motion or action. It is not unheard of to see inanimate objects "speaking" the ellipsis.

In Chinese

In Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, the ellipsis is six dots (in two groups of three dots, occupying the same horizontal space as two characters) (i.e. ……). The dots are always centered within the baseline and the ascender when horizontal (on the baseline has become acceptable) and centered horizontally when vertical.

In mathematical notation

An ellipsis is also often used in mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 to mean "and so forth". In a list, between commas, or following a comma, a normal ellipsis is used, as in:

To indicate the omission of values in a repeated operation, an ellipsis raised to the center of the line is used between two operation symbols or following the last operation symbol, as in:

(though sometimes, for example, in Russian mathematical texts, normal, non-raised, ellipses are used even in repeated summations).

The latter formula means the sum of all natural number
Natural number
In mathematics, the natural numbers are the ordinary whole numbers used for counting and ordering . These purposes are related to the linguistic notions of cardinal and ordinal numbers, respectively...

s from 1 to 100. However, it is not a formally defined mathematical symbol. Repeated summations or products may similarly be denoted using capital sigma and capital pi notation, respectively:
(see factorial
In mathematics, the factorial of a non-negative integer n, denoted by n!, is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to n...


Normally dots should be used only where the pattern to be followed is clear, the exception being to show the indefinite continuation of an irrational number
Irrational number
In mathematics, an irrational number is any real number that cannot be expressed as a ratio a/b, where a and b are integers, with b non-zero, and is therefore not a rational number....

 such as:

Sometimes, it is useful to display a formula compactly, for example:

Another example is the set of zeros of the cosine function
Function (mathematics)
In mathematics, a function associates one quantity, the argument of the function, also known as the input, with another quantity, the value of the function, also known as the output. A function assigns exactly one output to each input. The argument and the value may be real numbers, but they can...


There are many related uses of the ellipsis in set notation
Set notation
Sets are fundamental objects in mathematics. Intuitively, a set is merely a collection of elements or members. There are various conventions for textually denoting sets...


The diagonal and vertical forms of the ellipsis are particularly useful for showing missing terms in matrices
Matrix (mathematics)
In mathematics, a matrix is a rectangular array of numbers, symbols, or expressions. The individual items in a matrix are called its elements or entries. An example of a matrix with six elements isMatrices of the same size can be added or subtracted element by element...

, such as the size-n identity matrix
Identity matrix
In linear algebra, the identity matrix or unit matrix of size n is the n×n square matrix with ones on the main diagonal and zeros elsewhere. It is denoted by In, or simply by I if the size is immaterial or can be trivially determined by the context...

The use of ellipses in mathematical proofs is often discouraged because of the potential for ambiguity. For this reason, and because the ellipsis supports no systematic rules for symbolic calculation, in recent years some authors have recommended avoiding its use in mathematics altogether.

Computer interfaces and programming

Ellipses are often used in an operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

's taskbar
In computing, a taskbar is a bar displayed on a full edge of a GUI desktop that is used to launch and monitor running applications. Microsoft incorporated a taskbar in Windows 95 and it has been a defining aspect of Microsoft Windows's graphical user interface ever since. Some desktop environments,...

s or web browser
Web browser
A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier and may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content...

 tabs to indicate longer titles than will fit. Hovering the cursor over the tab often shows a pop-up balloon of the full title. When many programs are open, or during a "tab explosion" in web browsing, the tabs may be reduced in size so much that no characters from the actual titles show, and ellipses take up all the space besides the program icon or favicon
A favicon , also known as a shortcut icon, Web site icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon, is a file containing one small icons, most commonly 16×16 pixels, associated with a particular Web site or Web page...


In many user interface
User interface
The user interface, in the industrial design field of human–machine interaction, is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the...

 guidelines, a "…" after the name of a command implies that the user will need to provide further information, for example in a subsequent dialog box
Dialog box
In a graphical user interface of computers, a dialog box is a type of window used to enable reciprocal communication or "dialog" between a computer and its user. It may communicate information to the user, prompt the user for a response, or both...

, before the action can be completed. A typical example is the Save As… command, which after being clicked will usually require the user to enter a filename, as opposed to Save where the file will usually be saved under its existing name.

An ellipsis character after a status message signifies that an operation may take some time, as in "Downloading updates…".

The ellipsis is used as an operator
Operator (programming)
Programming languages typically support a set of operators: operations which differ from the language's functions in calling syntax and/or argument passing mode. Common examples that differ by syntax are mathematical arithmetic operations, e.g...

 in some programming language
Programming language
A programming language is an artificial language designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that control the behavior of a machine and/or to express algorithms precisely....

s. The precise meaning varies by language, but it generally involves something dealing with multiple items. See Ellipsis (programming operator)
Ellipsis (programming operator)
-In programming:In programming, ellipsis notation is mostly used for two usages: Either to denote ranges or to denote a variable or unspecified number of arguments....


On the Internet and in text messaging

The ellipsis is one of the favorite constructions of Internet chat rooms, and it has evolved over the past ten years into a staple of text-messaging. Although an ellipsis is technically complete with three periods (...), its rise in popularity as a "trailing-off" or "silence" indicator, particularly in mid-20th century comic strip and comic book prose writing, has led to expanded uses online. It has been used in new ways online, sometimes at the end of a message "to signal that the rest of the message is forthcoming."

Today, extended ellipsis of two, seven, ten, or even dozens of periods have become common constructions in Internet chat rooms and text messages. Often, the extended ellipses indicate an awkward silence or a "no comment" response to the previous statement made by the other party. They are sometimes used jokingly or for emphatic confusion about what the other person has said.

The incorrect use of "elliptical commas", or commas used in plurality for the effect of ellipsis or multiple ellipsis, has also grown in popularity online—although no style journal or manual has yet embraced them.

Computer representations

In computing
Computing is usually defined as the activity of using and improving computer hardware and software. It is the computer-specific part of information technology...

, several ellipsis character
Character (computing)
In computer and machine-based telecommunications terminology, a character is a unit of information that roughly corresponds to a grapheme, grapheme-like unit, or symbol, such as in an alphabet or syllabary in the written form of a natural language....

s have been codified, depending on the system used.

In the Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 standard, there are the following characters:
Name Character Unicode HTML Entity Name Use
Horizontal Ellipsis U+2026 … General
Lao language
Lao or Laotian is a tonal language of the Tai–Kadai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and also spoken in the northeast of Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language. Being the primary language of the Lao people, Lao is also an important second language for...

U+0EAF General
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

n Ellipsis
U+1801 General
Thai people
The Thai people, or Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand and are part of the larger Tai ethnolinguistic peoples found in Thailand and adjacent countries in Southeast Asia as well as southern China. Their language is the Thai language, which is classified as part of the Kradai family of...

U+0E2F General
Vertical Ellipsis U+22EE Mathematics
Midline Horizontal Ellipsis U+22EF Mathematics
Up-Right Diagonal Ellipsis U+22F0 Mathematics
Down-Right Diagonal Ellipsis U+22F1 Mathematics

In Windows, it can be inserted with ALT+0133.

In the Mac OS, it can be inserted with OPTION+; (on an English language keyboard).

In Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 and sometimes in Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

, ellipsis characters are done by entering two consecutive horizontal ellipsis (U+2026). In vertical texts, the application should rotate the symbol accordingly.

Unicode recognizes a series of three period
Full stop
A full stop is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences. In American English, the term used for this punctuation is period. In the 21st century, it is often also called a dot by young people...

 characters (U+002E) as compatibility equivalent (though not canonical)
Unicode equivalence
Unicode equivalence is the specification by the Unicode character encoding standard that some sequences of code points represent essentially the same character...

 to the horizontal ellipsis character.

HyperText Markup Language is the predominant markup language for web pages. HTML elements are the basic building-blocks of webpages....

, the horizontal ellipsis character may be represented by the entity reference … (since HTML 4.0). Alternatively, in HTML, XML
Extensible Markup Language is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification produced by the W3C, and several other related specifications, all gratis open standards....

, and SGML, a numeric character reference
Numeric character reference
A numeric character reference is a common markup construct used in SGML and other SGML-related markup languages such as HTML and XML. It consists of a short sequence of characters that, in turn, represent a single character from the Universal Character Set of Unicode...

 such as … or … can be used.

In the
TeX is a typesetting system designed and mostly written by Donald Knuth and released in 1978. Within the typesetting system, its name is formatted as ....

 typesetting system, the following types of ellipsis are available:
Character markup
Lower ellipsis \ldots
Centred ellipsis \cdots
Diagonal ellipsis \ddots
Vertical ellipsis \vdots
Up-Right Diagonal Ellipsis \reflectbox{\ddots}

The horizontal ellipsis character also appears in the following older character maps:
  • in Windows-1250—Windows-1258
    Windows code page
    Windows code pages are sets of characters or code pages used in Microsoft Windows from the 1980s and 1990s...

     and in IBM/MS-DOS Code page 874, at code
    Code point
    In character encoding terminology, a code point or code position is any of the numerical values that make up the code space . For example, ASCII comprises 128 code points in the range 0hex to 7Fhex, Extended ASCII comprises 256 code points in the range 0hex to FFhex, and Unicode comprises 1,114,112...

     85 (hexadecimal)
  • in Mac-Roman, Mac-CentEuro
    Macintosh Central European encoding
    Macintosh Central European encoding is used in Apple Macintosh computers to represent texts in Central European and Southeastern European languages that use the Latin script....

     and several other Macintosh encodings, at code C9 (hexadecimal)
  • in Ventura International encoding at code C1 (hexadecimal)

Note that ISO/IEC 8859
ISO/IEC 8859
ISO/IEC 8859 is a joint ISO and IEC series of standards for 8-bit character encodings. The series of standards consists of numbered parts, such as ISO/IEC 8859-1, ISO/IEC 8859-2, etc. There are 15 parts, excluding the abandoned ISO/IEC 8859-12...

 encoding series provides no code point for ellipsis.

As with all characters, especially those outside of the ASCII
The American Standard Code for Information Interchange is a character-encoding scheme based on the ordering of the English alphabet. ASCII codes represent text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices that use text...

 range, the author, sender and receiver of an encoded ellipsis must be in agreement upon what bytes are being used to represent the character. Naive text processing software may improperly assume that a particular encoding is being used, resulting in mojibake
, from the Japanese 文字 "character" + 化け "change", is the occurrence of incorrect, unreadable characters shown when computer software fails to render text correctly according to its associated character encoding.-Causes:...


The Chicago Style
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 16 editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing...

 Q&A recommends to avoid the use of  (U+2026) character in manuscripts and to place three periods plus two nonbreaking spaces (. . .) instead, so that an editor, publisher, or designer can replace them later.

In Abstract Syntax Notation One
Abstract Syntax Notation One
Data generated at various sources of observation need to be transmitted to one or more locations that process it to generate useful results. For example, voluminous signal data collected by a radio telescope from outer space. The system recording the data and the system processing it later may be...

(ASN.1), the ellipsis is used as an extension marker to indicate the possibility of type extensions in future revisions of a protocol specification. In a type constraint expression like A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) an ellipsis is used to separate the extension root from extension additions. The definition of type A in version 1 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ...) and the definition of type A in version 2 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) constitute an extension series of the same type A in different versions of the same specification. The ellipsis can also be used in compound type definitions to separate the set of fields belonging to the extension root from the set of fields constituting extension additions. Here is an example: B ::= SEQUENCE { a INTEGER, b INTEGER, ..., c INTEGER }
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