A lot of my favorite writers use ellipses, in both narration and dialogue. I know the rules for them, and how they are broken (somewhat) for fiction. The problem I have is that when I vacillate between the three-dot ellipsis and the four-, I run into a problem on line breaks. In Journey to the End of the Night and the works of Henry Miller, they will have these types of usage:

"Doctor, I rely on you . . ."

She would go on like this as long as she felt like it. . . . Today she seemed to me ready to quadruple her efforts.

"I say, Robinson! Hey there! . . ."

I know from grammar and usage guides that they are spaced; they are spaced in novels as well. However--and this is my question--when I space them on my manuscript (in MS Word 2013), they treat it as different words and will break them in half. If I don't space, it looks awful. Can the editors tell the difference? Will they care if I don't space them out, or is there an method to fix it? I tried setting it up in the options in Word, but it has nothing for four-dot ellipses; it treats them as though they don't exist.

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    I think the spaces look terrible and I never use them. Three or four periods in a row will never ever be broken by Word. Jul 11, 2017 at 15:49
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    @LaurenIpsum I agree. I've seen spaced ellipsis used in some novels and I personally think it's kinda ugly to read. I don't know why. I also think they're unnecessary anyway. Jul 12, 2017 at 4:52

2 Answers 2


Editors care if you have a good story to tell and can tell is reasonably well. No manuscript was ever or will ever be rejected on the basis of spaces around an ellipsis. Four spelling errors on the first page, maybe. Spacing around an ellipsis, never. All that will get taken care of in copyediting and typesetting, if you get that far. Focus on your storytelling and let the ellipses fall where they may.


Chicago style is with the spaces. As are most law briefs. You get used to that, it can stick. But AP style is without. And AP style is what people generally see in regular life. (News Stories, most media follows this).

But fiction, though it tends mostly towards no spacing in older books and sometimes even those dang BRACKETS, is wildly inconsistent from book to book and printer to publisher.

Chose one format, and stick with it. As long as you are consistent, it should not matter.

There is a reason why the program doesn't like the spacing--more often it's no spacing. There are other rules out there.

  • I'm not sure what you mean by older books--all the ones I love and admire were written and published in the early half of the twentieth century, and a lot were written in French originally. And the publishers or imprints that I love--New Directions, Grove/Atlantic, Vintage--they use the spaces. All my books are trade paperbacks; I find mass market editions reprehensible (unless its a collector's edition), so I don't really know what they use. But I do study what I read, and it seems that the fiction that matters, serious, literary fiction, they all use spaces. . . . Jul 12, 2017 at 1:56

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