Ellipsis - 3 dots with non-breaking spaces or the single glyph?

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Dave Bricker's picture
Joined: 6 Dec 2011 - 7:35am
Ellipsis - 3 dots with non-breaking spaces or the single glyph?

I'm new here on typophile and look forward to joining the conversation.

I have been writing blog posts about book design targeted at writers and publishers. The latest installment covered dashes and ellipses. I've had some pushback from typographers who prefer using three spaced periods to the built-in em-width ellipsis glyph.

Of course, critique on the rest of the article is welcome; I know there are endless subtleties to adding sidebearing space to dashes that are probably beyond where most indie writers and publishers will ever go, but I'm mostly curious about how typographers here work with ellipses.

Doesn't it make sense that type designers would build in (at very least) an alternate single glyph with wider spacing if that was a popular convention?

If you do prefer the "three periods" approach, what is your rationale and your recipe for building them?

See http://onehourselfpub.com/book-design-part-4


Dave Bricker

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
James Michaels's picture
Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am

Personally I never insert spaces between periods to make an ellipsis because this can lead to the ellipsis being broken over two lines if the type reflows later. Your application will view each period-space as the end of a sentence and will feel free to insert a line break.

(One way around that problem, at least in InDesign, is to select the periods and spaces and apply the "no break" command.)

But the method I prefer is to either use the ellipsis character or else use 3 periods (no spaces) and adjust the kerning, if necessary.

darrel's picture
Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm

I prefer the ellipsis character mainly because I'm not typing on a typewriter. That said, online, I usually always type it as three periods...maybe because it *is* like typing on a typewriter...and I suppose I can see an artistic license argument for the spaced version . . . perhaps a longer pause. (BTW, I think you could space that with non-breaking spaces...at least online, though I assume InDesign has the same option)

James de Leiburne's picture
Joined: 11 Jun 2010 - 5:38am

I know it's a personal thing, but I'd check out the available ellipsis with a font firsthand - usually they've been designed as fit for purpose and to complement the typeface. An exception I can think of is if an ellipsis needed to be created for some really small type. Brighust's got a page on it if I recall.

Nick Shinn's picture
Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am

I always use the ellipsis because it is one (composite) keystroke, not three.
That makes it quicker to set and easier to edit, avoiding the possibility of placing the cursor between periods.
And also because I am a typophile who prefers the “clever” way of doing things!