Not entirely sure, please help.

Need to know if putting three or so dots before you're quoting means there is more of the sentence, but you have taken it out as it isn't needed?

I apologize if this doesn't make a lot of sense, I don't know how else to explain it and really need to know what the three dots mean.

  • 2
    The term for those three dots is ellipsis, from the Greek for leaving out. Knowing that name should enable you to find your answers; try here for starters. Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 2:13
  • When ellipsis appear (gee, is it singular or plural?) at the beginning of the quotation that basically means that a portion of the quote was omitted. For instance, "Roach said 'This important research is a key step along the way in helping us to understand how stem cells might shape future Parkinson's treatments.'" might be changed to "Roach said the research is '...helping us to understand how stem cells might shape future Parkinson's treatments.'" (Bad example, source picked at random.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 1:03
  • @HotLicks Singular. An ellipsis, several ellipses (just like any other Greek -is word). :-) Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 11:05

2 Answers 2


It's supposed to mean that a part of the quote is not relevant to the passage, and was omitted by the one who quoted it. Some caution is warranted when an ellipsis is encountered, however, as it is not unknown for it to be misused, for example, by making the quote seem to say

"He is absolutely ... [the] man for the job!"

when the original actually read

"He is absolutely not the best man for the job!"

  • It is like the [] in quotes meaning that the part was added. Example: Quote: It was well written, and the part at the end where she dies is dramatic. Might be quoted to: "[The Book of Books] was well written and ... dramatic."
    – Droonkid
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 2:15
  • The question seems to refer, however, to the use of ellipsis at the front end of a quotation. I tend to regard ellipses as superfluous at either end, since the action of quoting quite normally involves selective excerpting and thus the omission of context at both ends. Ditto for square-bracketed insertions: why not just The Book of Books "was well written and . . . dramatic"? Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 15:02

If the quote was as such:

'Nancy stated she detested the forest as it contained many beetles scattered on the floor, she even stayed at home'

This could be shortened to:

'Nancy stated she detested the forest [...] she even stayed at home'

Whereby the use of the ellipses within square brackets denotes omitted words.