Dots and How to Use Them

Dots and How to Use Them

A Lesson by Thomas C

About dots in writing


Often, writers want to end a sentence or clause without a period, instead leaving the reader hanging. Well, using dots to do that is not correct.

Dots are used to show some text has been taken from another source, either written or spoken, but not the entire text, just an excerpt. An example is:

". . .the space capsule was damaged. . ."

The use of quotation marks is necessary, because you are quoting someone or some thing.

The format for these dots is Dot Space Dot Space Dot after the quote before the text and after the text before the ending quote mark.

These dots are called an ellipsis.

To show hesitation or a sudden stop, you must use the "em" dash. An em dash can be made by holding down the ALT key, hitting 0151, then releasing the ALT key.  Example:

"You—you—killed her?"  or   "Jimmy, go to the store and—"  or  "I wanted to run, but—"

Using the ordinary dash or hyphen on the keyboard is not right either, neither will it appear correctly when printing it out, depending on the software used to do the printing, and it will be different between word processors. However, the em dash, by using the ALT key and the numbers 0151, is an ASCII character, recognized by all.

ASCII means American Standard Code for Information Interchange.  [HA! I think it's "Information".]

You might want to play with the ALT key and various numbers to see what other characters you can come up with. You might make some interesting discoveries.

Next lesson: Passive vs Active voice.


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Added on August 21, 2013
Last Updated on August 21, 2013
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Thomas C
Thomas C

San Antonio, TX

Disabled Veteran, retired newspaper journalist, military brat, graduated high school in France 1966.