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What punctuation should be used to indicate omitted words from a direct quotation?

When a portion of a sentence (or sentences) is not included in a quotation, three ellipsis points should be typed in place of the omitted material. However, ellipsis points do not need to be included at the beginning or end of a quotation; the reader will assume that additional material is present in the original text before and after the quotation.

Let’s look at an example in which Charles Judd’s book, Psychology: General Introduction, is quoted:

Original direct quotation: “One application of the term organic memory in which we are especially interested is that which refers to retentions in the nervous system” (Judd, 1907, p. 236). [1]

Quoted sentence with ellipsis points: “One application of the term organic memory . . . refers to retentions in the nervous system” (Judd, 1907, p. 236). [1]

How should ellipsis points be used after a complete sentence?

If a sentence between two other sentences is omitted, retain the end punctuation of the first sentence and add the three ellipsis points after it. The following example quotes specific sentences from Sigmund Simonsen’s book, Acceptable Risk in Biomedical Research:

Original direct quotation: “The principle of human primacy has been criticised as being vague and ill-founded or redundant in bioethical literature. A critical analysis of the principle as such falls outside the scope of this book. But, despite occasional criticism, the principle is obviously fundamental. It has also since its explicit adoption into international professional ethics in 1974 and European law in 1997 been widely acknowledged.” (Simonsen, 2012, p. 53) [2]

Quoted sentence with ellipsis points following a complete sentence:

As Simonsen (2012) observes, “The principle of human primacy has been criticised as being vague and ill-founded or redundant in bioethical literature. . . . But, despite occasional criticism, the principle is obviously fundamental” (p. 53). [2]

See also:


[1] Judd, C. H. (1907). Psychology: General introduction. New York, NY: Scribner.

[2] Simonsen, S. (2012). Acceptable risk in biomedical research. New York, NY: Springer.