How to write an Ellipsis in a Novel
08 Tuesday Jan 2013
Written by J. Abram Barneck in Writing Tips
Ok, so I have been reading a lot of ebooks since I purchased my Kindle Fire last year. I have even been reading a lot more indie books.
One of the problems I have seen in indie books is the way the author writes the Ellipsis. Ebooks are usually justified, and so this is even more important with ebooks.
Wrong ways to write an Elllipsis in a Novel
Here are some of the ways I have seen it written in indie ebooks I’ve read recently. While these are not technically wrong, they are not how professional publishers do it, and so doing it this could make your work look less professional.
- Just three periods without a preceding or trailing space. This usually causes problems with justified text (text that extends all the way to the right). Each character in the ellipsis is actually a period.
dot dot dot: It was…well, I don’t know what it was.
- An actual ellipsis character without a preceding or trailing space. This usually causes problems with justified text (text that extends all the way to the right). The ellipsis is actual a single character.
ellipsis character: It was…well, I don’t know what it was.
- Another way is to have a space both before and after an ellipsis (whether done with three periods or with the ellipsis character). This works well with justified text, but looks unbalanced.
space dot dot dot space: It was … well, I don’t know what it was.Also, this can happen: It was
… well, I don’t know what it was.
We don’t really want a new line starting with an ellipsis.
Note: Have an elipsis character followed by a space isn’t so bad. It isn’t following the Chicago Manual of Style, but usually looks fine.
space dot dot dot space: It was… well, I don’t know what it was.
I would recommend that you try to look professional and avoid the above methods.
The correct way to write an Ellipsis in a novel
By correct, I mean, according to the Chicago Manual of Style.
Here is the use of an ellipsis in normal prose.
It was hard . . . very hard.
Here is the use of an ellipsis at the beginning of dialog. There is no space between the first dot and the quotes.
“. . . was not what I said.” He started out mumbling, then got louder.
Here is the use of an ellipsis at the end of dialog. There is no space between the final dot and the quotes.
“I think it would be nice to . . .” He stopped mid sentence.
Here is the use of an ellipsis followed by a question mark. It is probably totally up to you as to whether to include the question mark or not.
“What the . . . ?” His eyes widened at the gruesome creature before him.
Note: Use an exclamation the same way as the question mark.
Ellipsis in epub
I use Sigil and here is how I write an ellipsis in html for an epub/mobi file. I use three non-breaking spaces and three periods. This is because the Chicago Manual of Style recommends this method and it really looks the best and most professional.
<p>He looked&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;. strange.<p>
This looks as follows.
He looked . . . strange.
The reason you use non-breaking spaces is so that you don’t see this.
He looked . .
January 9, 2013 at 5:28 am
The things one learns reading blogs! Thanks.