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When a quote ends a paragraph, essentially trailing off, one (generally) uses three ellipses points such as the following:

"I'm not going to humor that suggestion! There is no way ..."

Even if the end of the quote completes a sentence, if it's an incomplete thought, it may retain three points

"I'm not going to humor that suggestion! There is no way I can ..."

But what about

Mars, the red planet--but to the Romans, it is the God of War! Herein lies the story [?]

A period just doesn't seem to cut it. So the question is, three dots or four? And if four, what should the separation be? I realize this is a bit of a style issue. THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE, which I use, only advocates four equally spaced points if it indicates the removal of paragraph(s) in quoted material.

  • Why doesn't a full stop "seem to cut it"? – rajah9 Dec 11 '15 at 18:53
  • True, a period ends a sentence. But I'm introducing a story, and it seems abrupt. – Stu W Dec 11 '15 at 19:04
  • Never end a sentence with a preposition! End it by trailing off and ... – candied_orange Dec 12 '15 at 4:37
  • Related question: Is an ellipsis a distinct punctuation mark?. – user140086 Dec 12 '15 at 8:14
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Herein lies the story.

It's a full sentence, so it ends with a period.

(If you insist on using ellipses, use 4; you use 4 to end a full sentence.)


Edit: The Chicago Manual of Style (13th ed) says:

10.47 "In general, no ellipses points should be used 1) before or after an obviously incomplete sentence, 2) before or after a run-in quotation of a complete sentence, 3) before a block quotation beginning with a complete sentence ... 4) after a block quotation ending with a complete sentence."

The OP last sentence in question is "Herein lies the story." This is a complete sentence. It it were a block quotation, by 10.47, point 4, ellipses should not be used.

But the sentence in question is for a narrative passage, not a quoted passage. CMOS uses ellipses for the omission of a word or phrase from within a quoted passage. (10.36) This is not the case, so again, ellipses are contraindicated.

  • Please give an example with an answer. Also, may I remind you that this is a professional site, and I am asking for help. Attitude counts. Are you saying story.... or story. ... or story ... .? – Stu W Dec 11 '15 at 19:25
  • I like the literal interpretation: "Herein lies the story... ... ... ..." :P – Sabrina Dec 11 '15 at 20:35
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    Hmm, can an elipses be a full sentence on it's own? : - ) – candied_orange Dec 12 '15 at 5:44

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