The Ellipses Epidemic.

There is a terrible epidemic sweeping across the internet. It affects the credibility of burgeoning online businesses.

It started small, but it has now grown to include blog posts, their titles, and website content. It lulls you into a false sense of security, and then…

You’re left to finish the thought (or many!) that the writer was trying to convey. It has ravaged many a blog and I declare it must be stopped, immediately!

I’m talking about the ellipses.

The ellipses is a row of three periods or full stops . . .

It is not a replacement for the period. Period.

Constructing a blog post (especially for your online business), is about engaging your audience. You want your audience to trust that you know what you’re talking about. You want them to read the next sentence, and the one after that.

In order to do that, you have to write alluring sentences.

You need to make bold statements.

Using ellipses indicates that the sentence is unfinished, or that it should trail off, leaving the reader to fill in the rest. It’s also called a soft pause.

But what happens when every paragraph is laden with soft pauses?

It makes it very difficult to read, that’s what.

For example, “The truth is, I have been hiding for years… But I have finally figured out what I am meant to be doing in this life… I’ve found my purpose… I’m going to write self-help books.”

Every sentence trails off with a soft pause. The flow is interrupted. It looks like it was written with uncertainty or by an uncertain person. This person definitely does not sound confident. Maybe next week they’ll have found a new purpose in life?

Now, what if it was written like this; “The truth is, I have been hiding for years. I have finally figured out what I am meant to be doing in this life. I’ve found my purpose; I’m going to write self-help books.”

Not the greatest sentences in the world, but do you see my point? The second paragraph is more bold. You can read it without being forced to pause for so long between each sentence. It sounds like you know what you’re talking about. You believe this person has actually found their purpose to write self-help books.

If you want to write something that impacts people, that makes people think, then write it. Don’t let the ellipses steal the show by trailing off your sentences. It’s unseemly.

The same goes for your blog post titles. (Of which I am guilty of using ellipses too, to be sure.)

You write a blog post, and you think by putting ellipses in the title, it’ll really make an impact, make people think.

It doesn’t.  It gives off the impression that you lack confidence, and that you are indecisive about what you’re trying to say.

If you take a look at most of your favourite professional bloggers, you’ll notice that they don’t use ellipses a lot.

There is a time and place to use ellipses, for informal communications like texts, chats, emails etc. Or when you lack confidence, and are unsure of what you’d like to say next. Sure, use ellipses.

Otherwise, the ellipses has no place in your business blogging, or more importantly, your website content.

One more thing; if you absolutely insist on using ellipses, for the love of all that is green on this Earth, it only has three dots, not four. There is no such thing as a four-dot ellipses.


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Showing 8 comments
  • Kimberly

    But how else will writers create cliffhangers that make people feel obligated to click just so that they can find out what the heck lies on the other side of those three little dots… 😉
    Kidding aside, this is a great post! Kudos for pointing out the epidemic.

  • Robyn Petrik

    Thank you for this post Nathalie! I cannot agree more that the ellipses epidemic needs to end, or at least get quarantined. Just reading the bad example you included made my skin crawl a little bit, so I’m glad you shone a light on this grammar issue. Here’s to full stops and confident sentences!

  • Ani

    Ellipses have been annoying me for years as a designer. The worst was designing an advertisement or brochure, using a headline with an ellipsis. I usually removed them. Luckily clients didn’t mind most of the time!

  • Veronica

    Point taken! English is my second language so I’m always second guessing my writing (Like I’m doing right now with this comment) Thanks for the lesson!

  • Lyn Delmastro

    After being a teaching assistant in grad school, proper use of punctuation is something that can really bother me. This is a trend that I agree with you needs to go away! 🙂

  • Emily

    I love this! And you had me laughing throughout. I must confess I have a wee crush on ellipses but I do try to keep it from becoming Stalker-ville.

  • Kathryn

    You’ve given me some food for thought! As someone who does use ellipses in her web content, you’ve definitely made me think twice now. Thanks so much!

  • Alex

    I do this *so* often, it’s not even funny, and I’ve never even given it a second thought. Excellent blog post, I will definitely be more aware in the future. Also – I just checked my blog – they are EVERYWHERE! Fun fact: I caught myself adding an ellipses in this comment. #addicted 😉

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