Say there's a chapter with a title that ends in an ellipsis and then continued from there in the body text, like so:

...or kill them for that matter. Blah blah blah.

In cases like this, what would be the right way to deal with the first word in the body text ("or" in this case)? Should it be capitalized because it's the first word in the body? Or should it be left lowercase since it's a continuation of the title text? Do style manuals (Chicago in particular) mandate anything for these situations?

  • The Chicago Manual of Style is available online. – TRomano Jun 30 '15 at 11:11
  • So, all style-related questions are off-topic on this site now because the CMoS is available online? – TheLearner Jun 30 '15 at 11:38
  • No, because this is a site about the English language, not about style sheet punctuation vagaries. Moreover, there's no need for you to ask here about "Chicago in particular" when you can easily find the answer to that question yourself. – TRomano Jun 30 '15 at 11:42
  • "because this is a site about the English language, not about style sheet punctuation vagaries. " If that were the case, I don't see the need to even have a dedicated tag for styles on this site with well over 300 questions. By your logic, there are dictionaries available online so questions pertaining to vocabulary should be off-topic for you. And so should be questions about grammar as there are grammar manuals available online too. But thanks for being so helpful. – TheLearner Jun 30 '15 at 12:13
  • By the way, Chicago Manual of Style is not available for free. And I don't think everybody can afford to spend money buying an entire book just to get one answer. That's where forums like this come in. The style question here pertains to English language and none other. – TheLearner Jun 30 '15 at 12:14

I checked three widely used style guides (Chicago Manual of Style, fifteenth edition; Words Into Type, third edition; and Oxford Style Manual), and they don't cover this question at all.

For the most part, style guides are concerned with the use of ellipsis points to indicate omissions from quotations or to signal a speaker's voice or thought trailing off in dialogue or narration. The situation that you are describing involves, in essence, using ellipsis points to indicate a fading out of one text element (a chapter title) and a fading in of another (body copy of the chapter proper). That is, the punctuation serves as a transition device, in a somewhat gimmicky way.

Since reference-work advice on this point is hard to find, you are on your own in deciding how to handle the ellipsis. I wouldn't use it at all, any more than I would start a chapter with


or kill them for that matter. Blah blah blah.



Or kill them for that matter. Blah blah blah.

because I don't see what valuable point I would attain by using such an approach. Avoiding repeating the three words of the chapter title in the main text that follows? Emphasizing that the chapter title is indeed the subject that I plan to plunge into without further ado? Doing something cute and unorthodox at the start of a chapter to shake things up a bit? None of those rationales seems particularly compelling to me.

But if you want to do it, you can proceed in whichever way you like. One of the benefits of doing something rather odd (stylistically speaking) is that guides to the conventional handling of style issues pretty much leave you alone.

  • Thank you so much for being helpful. This is what I was looking for because I didn't see any mandate around this at least from my preliminary Googling efforts. Couldn't check the style guides because none of them are available for free. I guess I will try rephrasing the text to avoid using the ellipsis altogether. You're right, it looks too adventurous for a formal piece of work. – TheLearner Jun 30 '15 at 20:51

This is not something that is done very often, and I doubt style guides have anything to say on it at all.

Finnegan's Wake, by James Joyce, opens with the continuation of the last sentence in the book, and it starts:

riverrun past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and environs.

Dhalgren, by Samuel R Delany, opens with the continuation of the last sentence in the book, and it starts (1982 edition):

to wound the autumnal city.

Note that in the 2014 reprint of Dhalgren, the one previewable on Google books, the publishers have chosen (in what I think was a bad decision) to begin it


So from this small sample, I would say feel free to start without a capital letter.

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