I’ve always liked using ellipses in casual writing and I’m a big-time user in text messages when I want to show my thoughts trailing off. But I haven’t written a research paper since college, so my need to use them in formal writing has dropped to zero. It’s always a good idea to stay current on the rules, however, because last week at work, I found myself in an intense conversation about the proper use of an ellipsis.
We were researching its use for a writer who’d called in with a very specific question: “If the ellipsis represents an omission, but it’s between two complete sentences, how many dots are there and are there spaces between them?”
Eeek! My coworker grabbed The Chicago Manual of Style, found the rule, marked the page and we waited for the writer to call back. He called back on my watch and that’s when the intensity intensified.
The CMOS rule says that there should be 4 dots. The first dot is the period and there is no space after the last word in the sentence. The next 3 dots are the ellipsis and there is a space between each dot. You can then begin the next sentence.
I did not remember that there should be spaces between the dots, but I’m ready for the next caller, as long as it’s the exact same question! There’s a lot of online chatter and opinion about the proper use of an ellipsis. I’m going to stick to the Chicago rules, but you can check out some of the discussion on these links:
Are you sometimes unsure whether you’re using “into” and “in to” correctly? Well here’s a quick way to remember:
The word “into” is a preposition that describes movement or places you or an object inside somewhere. “Into” can also denote transformation, like a frog turning into a prince. You use it in sentences like these:
I drove my Hyundai into the garage.
I was accepted into USC on my own merit.
The tadpole changed into a frog.
“In” by itself can be an adverb, a preposition, an adjective or a noun. “To” by itself can be a preposition, an adverb or part of an infinitive. Sometimes the words “in” and “to” meet in a sentence. Here are some examples:
I stopped in to say hi to my mom. (“to” means “in order to”)
I logged in to my WordPress blog. (“Logged” and “in” belong together and “to” directs the action to WordPress.)
He turned in to the shopping center. (“Turned” and “in” belong together and “to” explains direction.)
But there are always the ones that seem to follow no rule:
I’m really into rap music. (You’re not really inside of the music and you haven’t exactly transformed yourself, right? I think I’d get this right, though.)
He turned in to the driveway. (That worked for me when he was going to the shopping center, but I’d probably get this wrong.)
It’s always good to refresh on grammar. You can get more detailed explanations of the “into” and “in to” rule on the following websites:
We English majors and grammarians like to think we remember all the rules about writing, but there’s nothing wrong with a refresher to help us get it right.
I recently finished a project which contained narrative with a lot of dates and numbers, large and small. I wasn’t sure which numbers should be spelled out and which should be in numeric form. This handy article from Writer’s Digest explains it all.
While the article states that there are different opinions on the subject, here’s the general rule:
Spell out all numbers 0-9.
Use numeric symbol for 10 and above.
Spell out all numbers that begin with a sentence.
Never spell out calendar years, even if they begin a sentence.
Always use figures for ages of people, dates, monetary amounts, percentages and ratios.
Now that’s a rule I can follow!
What’s your policy on spelling out numbers? What grammar and writing rules are you sometimes unsure about?
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