NG Style Manual‎ > ‎- E -‎ > ‎


A. Prose
Omission of words in quoted matter from published works is generally shown by the ellipsis mark (ellipses).

National Geographic uses the simple ellipsis mark (three dots) system.

  1. Very few quotations are given in full.  Do not indicate the omission of complete sentences that precede or follow quoted matter.  The sentence that encloses the quoted material must itself be correctly punctuated.

  2. Use the ellipsis mark to indicate the omission of words within the body of the quoted material, regardless of whether the omission comes within a sentence or between sentences.
      Quotation: "It was one continual rain, thunder, and lightning. The ships lay exposed to the weather, with sails torn."
"It was one continual … lightning."

      Example: "It was one continual rain … with sails torn," he cried!
"It was one continual rain … The ships lay exposed to the weather."

  3. For clarity and readability an original question mark or exclamation point may be used before or after the ellipsis mark, according to where the omission occurs. If necessary for space, the question mark or exclamation point may appear on the line above or below the ellipsis mark, but the ellipsis mark (three dots) itself is never separated.

A comma that occurs in quoted matter is absorbed by the ellipsis mark. When an ellipsis ends a quotation, a comma may be used at the end of the mark if required by the rules of punctuation, although more commonly the ellipsis would be omitted: "Once upon a midnight dreary …," he quoted darkly. "Once upon a midnight dreary," he quoted darkly.

If an article or page contains many quotations and ellipsis marks, or if the quoted material is a grammatically complete sentence, the final dots may be omitted. This is especially true if quoted fragments are woven into a grammatically complete sentence.
      Quotation: "It was one continual rain, thunder, and lightning."
"It was one continual rain."


"It was one continual rain," Columbus lamented.

  4. The ellipsis mark is not needed at the beginning of quoted material if the omission is shown by using a lowercase letter. A capital letter may be changed to lowercase if the quote is included syntactically within a sentence. It is permissible to change an original lowercase letter to a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. In this case mark may be used with discretion.
      Quotation: "The ships lay exposed to the weather, with sails torn, and anchors, rigging, cables, boats, and many of the stores lost; the people exhausted and so down in the mouth that they were all the time making vows to be good."

      Example: He said that the crew were "so down in the mouth that they were … making vows to be good."
B. Poetry
Follow the same procedures as those for prose except that omissions within a line of poetry must always be shown, and the original capitalization (or lack of it) retained.

C. Other uses
Suspension of thought and continuation of action are also indicated by the ellipsis mark, whether within a sentence or at the end of a sentence:  the bell tolled … and tolled …