In transcripts (mainly screenplays/dialogue scripts and some web pages), I see the following:

"You could try to do this... or that."
CHARACTER gestures at the alternate choice; a big red button.


"Wow. He killed himself... What an idiot."

As opposed to:

"You could get your entire armada to push every human off their rooftops to their deaths, or alternatively press the big red button attached to a sample of human blood."


Wow. He killed himself.
What an idiot.

Is it correct usage of an ellipsis to:

  • be used to simplify a long explanation of what "this" is?
    Basically: Is it used correctly as an omission of further ideas/explanation or to cut short the statement?
  • be used as a pause?
  • not capitalize the letter after the ellipsis? (If the statement after it isn't a proper sentence)
  • link two statements or ideas? (but not like a semicolon, but rather like a broken conjunction)
  • Yes to point 2 and 3, but not sure what your point 1 and 4 even mean, or how they relate to the examples shown. You will have to elaborate. At any rate, the examples shown are fine. What is wrong, however, is your use of a hyphen instead of a dash.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jul 13, 2015 at 9:33
  • 1
    If you want to reduce You could try to dextrobope the malcarping fibrulomic antigromulator, or just switch off the engine to You could try to do this... or that, the V + NP mouthful (and possibly the antecedent of 'that'!) must have been stated previously, and you'd punctuate You could try to ... – or.... It would be an attempt to convey firstly a 'stuck-for-words grimace and mushrooming-signalling arm-waving' non-verbal communication, and secondly a simple switch-off mime. Best avoided. Jul 13, 2015 at 10:00
  • @RegDwigнt For point 1, it's basically whether it is used correctly, as Ellipses are used to shorten or cut short an incomplete idea. (Will edit in soon)
    – aytimothy
    Jul 13, 2015 at 10:42
  • 1
    In dialog, what you call "ellipsis" is not really that (ie, not omitted words), but effectively an extended dash, suggesting a pause in speech. "Manual of Style" type references generally do not encompass notation needed to represent dialog.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 19, 2015 at 2:33

1 Answer 1


Obey your manual of style, the one you've chosen or the one thrust upon you. I use The Chicago Manual of Style, which for English text, reserves ellipsis point for omitted material except in the case of what it calls "faltering speech."

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