Dot-dot-dot (1): how to type an ellipsis

Here’s a quick tip  that comes in handy for computer-typing in general and Twitter in particular (it saves you two characters).

When you’re typing an ellipsis (three dots indicating an omission), instead of typing all three dots, type it as a single character by using the following keyboard shortcuts:

Mac OS ellipsis: OPTION + semicolon

Windows ellipsis: ALT + 0133

Note: your Mac keyboard might say “alt” instead of “option” (mine does).

Here’s a 3-dot ellipsis: … and here’s a single-character one: … (they should look slightly different – do they?).

Apple provides a list of keyboard shortcuts here. It doesn’t include this one, which I discovered from The Non-Designer’s Type Book, by Robin Williams. Who now contributes to the Peachpit Commons Blog (yay!), with John Tollett (their blog is Design Think). According to Robin, the single-character ellipsis is not ideal in typographical terms — the dots are too tightly spaced.

Matthew Butterick also discusses ellipses on his Typography for Lawyers site (featured in Sunday’s post on Internet Gems). Check out the comments too — it’s amazing the amount of discussion three wee dots can trigger.

If you end a sentence with an ellipsis remember to add a full stop (period) as well.

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. Don’t you wish proper quotation marks were a bit more accessible on a Mac keyboard? It’s no wonder so many people use the less curvaceous option they can see on their keyboard when the alternative involves a combination of up to three keys, plus remembering what those keys are.

  2. I know – the problem with keyboard shortcuts is remembering them. There are so many!

    In Word — which I use most of the time — you can set AutoFormat As You Type to automatically replace “straight” with “smart” quotes (via AutoText in the Insert menu or AutoCorrect in the Tools menu).

    The Pages word-processing programme seems to use smart quotes automatically (not sure how you’d get straight ones).

    Which programmes do you use most often?

  3. Print work isn’t really a problem as both InDesign and Illustrator have a similar smart quotes system. It’s web stuff (90% of what I do) that’s the problem, as Dreamweaver certainly doesn’t convert anything automatically and neither do the WYSIWYG editors in WordPress, Joomla or Prestashop, which I use most often. I not only have to remember the key combinations, but also the HTML entities! Same goes for email come to think of it, which probably accounts for the vast majority of typing I do in any given day.

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