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The ellipsis is "a mark (as . . .) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause" (Ellipsis, n.d., 2). The most common usage of the ellipsis in academic writing is to indicate where words have been left out of the middle of a quotation. For example, “omission . . . or a pause”. The APA style rules discourage authors from using an ellipsis at the beginning or end of a quotation (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 173). Rather, begin the quotation at the text that is relevant to your study, and similarly, close the quotation at the completion of the relevant text. The only exception to this approach is if omitting the ellipses at the beginning or end of a quotation could lead to misinterpretation of the quotation (p. 173). To format an ellipsis, 

Use three spaced ellipsis points (. . .) within a sentence to indicate that you have omitted material from the original source. Use four points to indicate any omission between two sentences. The first point indicates the period at the end of the first sentence quoted, and the three spaced ellipsis points follow. (p. 173)

The ellipsis is also sometimes used to indicate, "the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete" (Ellipsis, n.d., 1a). For example, “I'm thinking of going out for brunch on Sunday . . . see you there?” Academic writing requires correct and complete grammar, so this usage of the ellipsis should be avoided within formal writing.

Questions? Please contact the Writing Centre.

Theresa Bell
Writing centre coordinator


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. 

Ellipsis. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. Retrieved from