Avoid using periods and spaces

An ellip­sis (plural ellipses) is a sequence of three dots used to indi­cate an omis­sion in quoted mate­r­ial.

The ellip­sis is fre­quently approx­i­mated by typ­ing three peri­ods in a row, which puts the dots too close together, or three peri­ods with spaces in between, which puts the dots too far apart. So use your font’s ellip­sis char­ac­ter, not the approx­i­ma­tions.

The prob­lem with using peri­ods and word spaces is that it per­mits your word proces­sor to break the ellip­sis across lines or pages, like so:

imper­a­tive to . .
. courts

Should you put word spaces around an ellip­sis? As with the em dash (see hyphens and dashes), that’s up to you. Typ­i­cally you’ll want spaces before and after, but if that looks odd, you can take them out. If there’s text on only one side of the ellip­sis, use a nonbreaking space on that side so the ellip­sis doesn’t get sep­a­rated from the text.