Using the Ellipsis ( … ) in transcription work – an article by University Transcriptions – feel free to comment with your thoughts.. This article has been written because one of our longstanding clients got in touch to discuss our usage of them to identify missing text but at the same time employing them to indicate pauses in sentences. Were both correct or have we been using the ellipsis incorrectly?
Using the ellipsis (3 dots …) is an art form in itself. There are lots of incorrect uses of … so here is our definitive guide on when and how to use it. We often use ellipsis to show when words are unclear during transcription, but this is not the original and formal method of using it as our advice below shows …
Leaving out Material for a Quote
Use the ellipsis … when you leave out material from an original source in a quote. So for example:
“Stagnation continues to seize up the jobs market as the slowdown in recruitment activity continues. Permanent staff appointments fell again in June … the worry is that vacancy growth … is unlikely to bounce back as firms take a relatively cautious approach to hiring”.
The University of Bristol refers to using common sense to determine when
and how to use the ellipsis to reference excluded material from a quote
– you have a bit of flexibility as to whether you use one if you simply
take out one word for example.
Do not use before and after a quotation
You do not need to use ellipsis before and after quotations, even if they are taken from a larger body of material.
So in the example above, this would be wrong:
“… stagnation continues to seize up the jobs market as the slowdown in recruitment activity continues. Permanent staff appointments fell again in June … the worry is that vacancy growth … is unlikely to bounce back as firms take a relatively cautious approach to hiring…”
Using an Indented Quote
You do however need to use an ellipsis if you take out the beginning or end of a long, indented quote. So for example:
The accountancy firm reported that
… staff appointments fell again in June … the worry is that vacancy growth … is unlikely to bounce back as firms take a relatively cautious approach to hiring.”
(KPMG Report October 2019 p47)
Ellipsis for Pausing
One of the most useful ways of employing an ellipsis is as a pause in direct speech.
“Gordon stood still, patiently waiting for the guard to go past him. He held his breath for what felt like an eternity … and then let it out as he heard the guard’s footsteps clanging on the metal staircase.”
Ellipsis for Trailing Off
You can also employ an Ellipsis when the voice is trailing off, for example:
I travelled on the bus to buy a cake at a supermarket. I started to feel very tired, which reminded me of another time when I made a long bus journey …
You need to make sure that the three dots are kept together – the easiest way of this is to use a computer generated ellipsis rather than typing the full stops, although the most recent versions of Microsoft Office will automatically turn your three dots into an ellipsis in any event.
To get an ellipsis in Word simply press and hold down “ctrl” and “alt” and “.”
Do you leave a space before an Ellipsis?
Yes – you need to ensure there is a space between the three dots and the last bit of typing.
So there you have it – the University Transcriptions guide to the use of Ellipsis! It is considered one of the most incorrectly used symbols in the English language (presumably after the apostrophe s (‘s) and it is commonly incorrectly used in emails on a regular basis …