The Power of Absence

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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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Wendy Scott said:

I like how you tied together your personal experience with the text. I think you are right that we do need to be aware of how we use ellipsis(...). I tend to get cared away with them as well exspecially with quotes that are of directness, and of someting that I need to cut because I only need half of what the person says. I never really thought about the readers when doing such a thing I just assumed it sounded better so I reall got a better understanding by reading your input. I mean what harm could we possilbly do. An I love quotations. I think next time I will consider the effects it has on the audience in the matter of words, and cuts.

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