I love the ellipsis

One of the lessons of effective communications is the power of silence – like white space in graphic design, nothing can say so much.



I’m equally fond of the end of sentence indicated by a row of three full stops to denote an intentional omission.  For me, dot-dot-dot offers more than a pause – I enjoy it’s reflection of an unfinished thought or something unsaid, trailing off into silence.

This aposiopesis is a great rhetorical device telling your audience that there is more, but in the spirit of a dialogue, they are free to supply what has not been stated.  It says “you know what I mean”, bringing the other person inside your thoughts; a shared joke.

Email is the natural home of my type of conversational ellipsis – it is soft and subtle, unlike so much

In contrast, I hate the – especially when it arrives mob-handed, like a gang of hoodies in emails or press release headlines. 

It shouts, bosses us around.  Warning!!!! I am clever!!!! I am funny!!!!!! Look at the number of !!! which prove it.  This is an interjection of high volume, screaming a sentence to a halt, out of breath, astonished even.  It exhausts me – I need my silence, my white space, my …

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

6 thoughts on “I love the ellipsis”

  1. I’m a bit of an Ellipsophile myself. Multiple exclamations always make me think of Private Eye- Glenda Slagg and Polly Filler…

  2. Yes, I had a discussion with someone today about restrictive clauses within bracketing commas. I was always taught if you can take out the commas and what’s within them and your sentence still makes sense then you’re ok. But others think it just separates any info at all regardless of importance .

    Quite confusing I agree.

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