Ellipses with Periods (CMOS 13.53)

Image of theater spotlight on the number 13.53Section 13.53 in the Spotlight

When words are left out of a quotation, an ellipsis of three dots (. . .) takes their place. When this works correctly, the reader can skip over the dots and the sentence continues smoothly on the other side.

Quotation 1: “With a sensation of horror . . . I saw at the open window a figure.”

If the first segment of the quotation could be read as a complete sentence (grammatically speaking), a period comes before the ellipsis (for a total of four dots). Readers will  pause at the period, as in quotations 2 and 3. The first word after an ellipsis is capitalized if it begins a new sentence.

Quotation 2: “I saw at the open window a figure the most hideous and abhorred. . . . He seemed to jeer.”

Quotation 3: “I felt a kind of panic. . . . With a sensation of horror not to be described, I saw at the open window a figure the most hideous and abhorred.”

When a quotation deliberately trails off without finishing, it ends with three dots (see also CMOS 13.55).

Quotation 4: Do you think the sentence “I rushed towards the window . . .” goes on too long?

Chicago style puts a space between ellipsis dots. A period before an ellipsis closes up to the preceding word as usual, but a space comes between the period and the ellipsis. To find more advice on the use and styling of ellipses, please see the CMOS index under ellipses.

The windows of the room had before been darkened, and I felt a kind of panic on seeing the pale yellow light of the moon illuminate the chamber. The shutters had been thrown back, and with a sensation of horror not to be described, I saw at the open window a figure the most hideous and abhorred. A grin was on the face of the monster; he seemed to jeer, as with his fiendish finger he pointed towards the corpse of my wife. I rushed towards the window, and drawing a pistol from my bosom, fired; but he eluded me, leaped from his station, and running with the swiftness of lightning, plunged into the lake.”

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus (Urbana, IL: Project Gutenberg, 2008), chap. 23. Retrieved November 15, 2018.

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