Ellipses is the plural of ellipsis. An ellipsis is made up of three contiguous periods. (Technically, the dots in an ellipsis are ellipsis points, but for our purposes, you can think of them as periods.) Ellipses indicate the omission of part of a sentence, paragraph, or larger block of text where the omission is not pertinent to the understanding of the subject at hand.
When ellipses are used to indicate hesitation, they are called suspension points. Don't use ellipses this way in our documentation.
Not recommended: The answer is ... wait for it ... that you shouldn't do this.
How to use ellipses
- In a user interface
- When ellipses appear in a user interface, exclude them from the documentation describing the user interface unless their omission could cause confusion. For example, if the text on the button in the UI reads "Save ...", document it as "click Save".
- In text
- Don't use ellipses in your written documentation; omit any unnecessary information and include all necessary information.
- However, it's acceptable to use ellipses in quoted text (to replace a portion of the quoted text) except when they appear at the beginning or end of the text.
- Not recommended: My high school English teacher made me learn that Shakespeare quote about all the world being a stage and " ... all the men and women merely players."
- Not recommended: My high school English teacher made me learn that Shakespeare quote: "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players ...."
- Note that the previous example ended with four ellipsis points. The final ellipsis point is, in fact, a period. So when the material that you're omitting contains one or more sentence boundaries, use four dots instead of three.
- Recommended: My high school English teacher made me learn that Shakespeare quote: "All the world's a stage, ... And one man in his time plays many parts."
- Punctuation and spacing
- Keep all three ellipsis points together. When creating an ellipsis, instead of the ellipsis character use three periods in a row. Insert one space before and after the ellipsis unless a punctuation mark immediately follows the ellipsis; in this case, don't insert a space after the ellipsis.
- Not recommended: You don't need to understand all the other Python code in there...we'll explain it all in class.
- Recommended: You don't need to understand all the other Python code in there ... we'll explain it all in class.