The Power of Absence
From Chapter 8 of The Associated Press Guide to News Writing:
“The ellipsis ( ) indicates omitted matter. The trouble is that it calls attention to what is not there rather that to what is” (70).
I try to salvage or bend quotes to my will with ellipsis all the time. It allows me to use the parts of the quote that I want and to omit the rest. I never really considered that there was any danger in this. However, the point that Cappon highlights is very significant. When one inserts those three little dots, it sends a message to the reader than something is missing. The reader will undoubtedly wonder what it is that has been left out. In a sense, the ellipsis kind of undermines your credibility. After all what is missing and why did you remove it? The lesson is not that we can’t use them, just that we need to be aware of what readers may think about the absent text.
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