What Are Ellipses?
Sometimes, you only want to reference part of a quotation or an excerpt. The rest of the quotation or excerpt might not be relevant, or maybe you’re just trying to save space in your document. Ellipses are punctuation marks that indicate places in text where you’ve omitted words, a sentence, a line, or a paragraph. Ellipses consist of three dots, each of which is preceded and followed by a space.
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in his “four freedoms” speech that people have a right to a freedom from want, “which . . . means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.”
Abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone once said, “ I expect to plead not for the slave only, but . . . I mean to labor for the elevation of my sex.” In his address at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln famously stated, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth . . . the proposition that all men are created equal.” Winston Churchill declared before the House of Commons, “Let us . . . so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”
When omitting a line or lines from a poem, insert one entire line of ellipses to stand in for the omitted material. Add greater space between the dots than you normally would.
Here is an example that shows this usage applied to Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee”:
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
It’s important to quote correctly from any sources you reference. By inserting ellipses, you let the reader know you’ve deliberately left out certain material, not improperly quoted from the source.