Ellipsis style

black currant's picture

Hello All,
I work at a magazine and we're discussing our use of the ellipsis. Currently, we use period, full space, period, etc. and I find it makes me crazy. There's just way too much space. I suggested using period, thin space, period, etc. but a friend told me I should just use the glyph since that's what it's there for.

What type of ellipsis are people using these days?

Thanks!

dezcom's picture

.

nina's picture

I hope you guys don't mind me reviving this interesting oldie, but I have to add that it seems quite US-centric. To add an international perspective: Putting spaces of any kind into the 3 dot sequence is not commonly done over here – I would say not in continental Europe, but at least not in Switzerland. Perhaps as a consequence, the unspaced "..." sequence does not usually seem too tight to me.
So there is a cultural aspect to this, and one interesting thing that follows is that ellipses in American-designed fonts often seem looser to me than the ones in European fonts, and sometimes distractingly loose. When designing for an international market these regional differences might be interesting to consider.

Stephan Kurz's picture

Can anyone confirm that there was no “ellipsis character” before the advent of DTP as mentioned in one of the posts above? I saw what appears to be three dots on one key at a linotype keyboard (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/5944029870/, bottom right) -- but cannot say if that key is really for typing an ellipsis character (it has a different shape than the other keys).

kentlew's picture

First of all, I don’t think that’s a Linotype keyboard. Looks more like Monotype, and (as someone already pointed out there) it has a Monotype label.

Secondly, I believe that key is for a three-dot leader. If you look at the same position in the left hand compartment, below the period, you’ll also see a two-dot leader.

I suppose a three-dot leader (presumably three-to-em) could have been used in place of an ellipsis — I don’t know if that was common practice in Monotype composition or not. If so, then I suppose I’ll have to stand corrected.

Stephan Kurz's picture

Kent, thanks for the idea with the dot leader (and for being with me helping revive “this interesting oldie”, as Nina put it above [back in 2010!]). Somewhere I came across this already, but I did not see its significance then. Maybe part of the aversion against using the ellipsis character is connected with the wideness of an em-wide dot leader that had been used on Monotype machines to avoid manual spacing (and several keystrokes). This makes sense, also when comparing different printed matter from the late 19th and early 20th century, where books with Monotype mentioned in the imprint do feature exceptionally wide ellipsis marks. I have yet to check that again, but wanted to share that possible connection between dot leaders and ellipses – or, rather, this confusion in the representation of two different functions.

dtw's picture

Has anyone thought of using the text from spam forum posts as a source of lorem ipsum?

nina's picture

Cool idea for a typeface specimen actually. :)

cuttlefish's picture

Speak of the devil, and, after a pregnant pause, he shall appear.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I'm seriously considering an ellipsis with only 2 periods..

dezcom's picture

Why, are you expecting another period soon?

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I just don't see the point in the third one.

hrant's picture

You need to distinguish between font design and writing system design.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Oh, so it wasn't menopause, Ryan?

cuttlefish's picture

Well, now that the big spam post has been deleted, my previous comment doesn't make sense anymore.

dezcom's picture

Which is worse?

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Writing systems are not set in stone, or steel, or brass, or binary code.

Karl Stange's picture

Writing systems are not set in stone

No, that would just be silly.

hrant's picture

Ryan, I'm a big fan of reforming writing systems (see my Alphabet Reform work). But you can't just remove a dot from an ellipsis in a font and think you're doing type design; you have to think deeply about strategy at the level of the writing system, and then make fonts based on such a foundation.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Your method allows no innovation, Hrant. In a world where everyone abbreviates everything, and where they consistently uses new combinations of old symbols (smileys) to express themselves, shortening an ellipsis from 3 periods to 2 strikes me as not only unradical, but inevitable.

hrant's picture

I love innovation, but it either has to be subtle enough to escape conscious rejection, or it has to be in-your-face. And most of all -like I said- it has to be on the correct level (writing system versus font).

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

My 2 period ellipsis is both subtle and in your face.

To the average person it is subtle. To the average type designer, it is in your face.

JamesM's picture

In casual writing like emails and text messages, most folks use a series of periods to create an ellipsis, and the number of periods will vary depending on their mood and how fast they're typing. So I don't think using 2 instead of 3 would even be noticed.

In printed pieces, one problem with a 2-period ellipsis is that it may just look like a typo, a double period.

hrant's picture

Yup, two is not enough.

hhp

dezcom's picture

What is so tough about using 3 periods? What is gained by only using 2?

Té Rowan's picture

How long until someone decides to repurpose the Unicode two-dot leader as a brand-spanking new two-dot ellipsis?

HVB's picture

Ryan: Your two-stop ellipsis is a fine abbreviation. As an abbreviation, however, it needs to be followed by a period.

- Herb

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

ha ha! God catch, HVB!

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Have any of you made a face that uses opentype substitutions to replace three periods in a row with an ellipsis?

Stephan Kurz's picture

Speaking of two-dot ellipses, that is not a completely new idea.
German poet Stefan George used that at the turn to the 20th century to distinguish his way of keeping his verse open in a more “closed” way, famously mocked by Theodor W. Adorno in his essay “Satzzeichen”.
A digitised version of the font George had made in order to keep his poetry in line with his stylized “handwriting”, and including a two-dot ellipsis, is available from the Institut für Textkritik, Heidelberg (and another one, with serious flaws, from IHOF/P22, for a discussion of said flaws, see my critique [German]) .

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