Mastering AP Style Ellipses: Proper Usage and Common Misconceptions

a person writing on a piece of paper with a pen
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Key Takeaways

– Proper usage of AP style ellipses is important in maintaining accuracy and clarity in writing.
– An ellipsis consists of three periods with a space on either side.
– Ellipses are used to indicate omitted words in a quote or to show an incomplete thought.
– Ellipses should not be used to create pauses for emphasis.
– Combining ellipses with other punctuation marks should be done carefully and in accordance with AP style guidelines.


Punctuation marks play a crucial role in written communication, helping to convey meaning, tone, and clarity. One such punctuation mark is the ellipsis, which is often misunderstood and misused. In this article, we will explore the proper usage of AP style ellipses, focusing on the keyword “AP style ellipses.” We will delve into the significance of using ellipses correctly, discuss common misconceptions, and provide practical examples to enhance your understanding. So, let’s embark on this journey to unravel the mysteries of AP style ellipses!

The Importance of Proper Usage

Using ellipses in accordance with AP style guidelines is crucial for maintaining accuracy and clarity in writing. When used correctly, ellipses help to indicate that words have been omitted from a quote without altering the original meaning. This allows readers to understand that the quote has been condensed or edited for brevity. Additionally, ellipses can be used to show that a speaker or writer did not complete a full thought, leaving room for interpretation or continuation. However, it is essential to use ellipses responsibly and avoid distorting the intended meaning of the original quote.

Common Misconceptions

One common misconception about ellipses is that they can be used to create pauses for emphasis. However, this is not the correct usage according to AP style. Ellipses should only be used to indicate omitted words or incomplete thoughts, not for dramatic effect. Using ellipses as a pause can lead to confusion and misinterpretation, as readers may perceive it as a signal for a different meaning or intention. It is important to use other punctuation marks, such as commas or dashes, to create pauses or emphasize certain words or phrases.

Combining Ellipses with Other Punctuation Marks

When combining ellipses with other punctuation marks, it is essential to follow AP style guidelines to ensure consistency and clarity. In general, if the ellipsis falls at the end of a sentence, a fourth period should be added to indicate the end of the sentence. However, if the ellipsis is followed by a question mark or exclamation point, the fourth period is not necessary. For example, “She said, ‘I’m not sure…'” or “Did he really say that…?” In cases where the ellipsis falls in the middle of a sentence, it should be surrounded by spaces to clearly indicate the omission of words. For example, “The report stated that… the results were inconclusive.” By adhering to these guidelines, writers can ensure that their use of ellipses is consistent and in line with AP style.

Mastering the Art of AP Style Ellipses

Now that we have explored the importance of proper usage and debunked common misconceptions, let’s delve into some practical examples to help you master the art of AP style ellipses.

Example 1: Quoting a Source

In an interview with the renowned author, she stated, “Writing is a journey… a way to explore the depths of the human experience.” Here, the ellipsis indicates that the author’s original quote was longer, but certain words have been omitted for brevity. This allows the reader to focus on the essence of the author’s statement without losing the intended meaning.

Example 2: Indicating an Incomplete Thought

As the speaker paused, he said, “I have always believed that… well, you know what they say.” In this example, the ellipsis shows that the speaker did not complete their thought, leaving it open-ended for the listener or reader to interpret. This usage adds a sense of intrigue and invites further contemplation.


In conclusion, mastering the usage of AP style ellipses is essential for maintaining accuracy and clarity in writing. By understanding the proper usage, avoiding common misconceptions, and following AP style guidelines, writers can effectively convey meaning and create engaging content. Remember, ellipses should only be used to indicate omitted words in a quote or to show an incomplete thought, not for creating pauses or emphasis. So, let’s embrace the power of AP style ellipses and elevate our writing to new heights!

Written by Martin Cole

person holding ballpoint pen writing on notebook

The Proper Usage of Ellipses in AP Style

Reed Albergotti: A Trusted Tech Editor Providing Transparent Analysis