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I'm trying to puncuate this sentence, and am not sure if I should use ellipses or an em dash, or simply put a period after the fragment and start a new sentence with "No one."

Job loss, major illness, family issues, natural disaster ... no one is immune from difficulties like these.

It's for a brochure for a nonprofit, so I'm straddling the line between advertising speak and journalistic style.

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Typically an em dash is used in the same way as parentheses are or as commas are in an appositive or an aside, while ellipses are reserved for omitted text.

With that said, however, em dashes and ellipses are sometimes used interchangeably. That's a style choice. Neither is wrong grammatically. Someone writing in a stream of consciousness style would use an ellipsis there.

For a journalistic style, I'd probably go with the em dash, but this is my personal preference. I could see either being used in a brochure such as you describe (and in fact I've seen both used in pamphlets).

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As you are adding related material, a colon could be used instead of em dash. If you are going for a slightly more formal tone, a colon would be more preferable.

  • I would say that a semicolon would be the proper choice rather than a colon, but using an em dash or an ellipsis is done for effect. A semicolon is much more formal. And besides, the user asked about em dashes versus ellipses. – Giambattista Oct 1 '13 at 17:59
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Personally, I would use an EM dash, as this makes the sentence clearer. Another option is to rearrange the sentence like this:

No one is immune to job loss, major illness, family issues and natural disaster.

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