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Tips and Tricks: Text Effects – Ellipses …

October 10, 2012

What the heck are ellipses? Here’s an example:

Notice those three dots at the end of “Remember When?” That’s ellipses.

Ellipses are pretty popular with card designers. As punctuation marks go, ellipses indicate a pause, so they’re perfect to set up a sentiment or joke on the outside which continues on the inside of the card.

Officially, here’s how GCU wants ellipses formatted:

A single space between the word and the first dot. A single space between each dots is allowed. Do not use double spaces. So here’s how you should be making ellipses:

I just wanted to say …

… happy birthday, uncle!


I just wanted to say . . .

. . . happy birthday, uncle!

Ellipses are always three dots. Three. Not two, not four, not twelve, but three. No more, no less.

Why should you care? Because doing the card right the first time leads to less delays in the reviewing process for you and everybody else. And getting ellipses wrong makes you look unprofessional, too. If the font you’re using has a tendency to put too much space in (we’ve all been there), just adjust the kerning.

So now you have the scoop on ellipses, and should be able to incorporate these valuable little marks into your designs without a hitch.

Have fun!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2012 10:34 am

    When I first joined GCU … (lol), I’m not afraid to say I’ve made this mistake. I’ve learned so much from the reviewers, thank you all!
    Thank you Corrie for all your tips, tricks, and links!
    Janet Lee

  2. October 10, 2012 12:49 pm

    Yes, that is one of the first things I learned at GCU as well. I remember being in shock because I had done research (to edit a story I was writing) on the ellipsis before, and my books had said nothing specifically about ‘how’ to write them, but I researched until I found it . . . and sure enough, that’s how you do it!

  3. October 10, 2012 4:04 pm

    I still don’t agree with GCU’s insistence on adding an extra space in front of ellipses. I agree, it’s the standard for literature, but not for headlines in advertising or greeting cards. If you look at Hallmark cards (the gold standard in greeting cards), they don’t add that extra space, nor have I ever added that extra space in advertising. It’s more of a design element and it should look visually appealing.

    • October 10, 2012 4:53 pm

      When I was researching it in the grammar books, if you don’t put a space before the first dot it is considered a period. This is mainly used when you are quoting something and you are leaving out information that comes after a complete thought. That’s why you see some ellipses that appear to have 4 dots. the first one is actually a period. I also learned that a long dash is also considered an ellipsis —

  4. October 10, 2012 5:28 pm

    I agree, those rules apply to editorial copy or literature, but for design typography, there’s room to bend those rules. It’s done all the time in award-winning advertising and on greeting cards. You’ll see a card design with the word, “Congratulations”, broken up into 4 words, but you won’t see any hyphens because it’s a typographical design. The “grammar book rules” don’t apply in typography. In the sample above, the ellipses didn’t have to be the same pt. size as the type (they look clunky). Each design is different and the reviewers should take that into consideration.

  5. Laura J. Holman permalink
    October 10, 2012 9:14 pm

    I’m so not an ellipse fan but that goes back to my ad biz days where they were frowned upon. Thank for an informative post! I know they have their place in the world of cards.

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