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May 27, 2015

Punctuation Junction: Quotation Marks and Ellipses

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

A series about what happens when punctuation marks collide.

In APA Style, double quotation marks are used to enclose

quoted material, and an ellipsis is a set of three spaced periods used to show that material has been omitted from a quotation. Here are three ways to use them in combination:

An Ellipsis at the Beginning or End of a Quotation  Quote ellipsis bubble

In general, it is not necessary to use an ellipsis at the beginning or end of a quotation, even if you are quoting from the middle of a sentence. An exception is that you should include an ellipsis if, to prevent misinterpretation, you need to emphasize that the quotation begins or ends in midsentence. However, it is not usually necessary to do this. Here’s an example from an article about high-performing or “star” employees:

Original sentence: “Stars have disproportionately high and prolonged performance, visibility, and relevant social capital, and there are minimum thresholds for each that must be attained to be a star.”

Correct use: One theory of exceptional employee behavior posits that star employees “have disproportionately high and prolonged performance, visibility, and relevant social capital” (Call, Nyberg, & Thatcher, 2015, p. 630).

Incorrect use: One theory of exceptional employee behavior posits that star employees “. . . have disproportionately high and prolonged performance, visibility, and relevant social capital. . .” (Call, Nyberg, & Thatcher, 2015, p. 630).

An Ellipsis in the Middle of a Quotation

Use an ellipsis in the middle of a quotation to indicate that you have omitted material from the original sentence, which you might do when it includes a digression not germane to your point. However, take care when omitting material to preserve the original meaning of the sentence.

When quoting, you can also change the first letter of the quotation to be capitalized or lowercase depending on what is needed for the grammar of the sentence in your paper. Here is an example showing both proper use of an ellipsis and a change in capitalization of the first letter:

Original sentence: “Some industries have formal rankings that broadcast the best and brightest workers (e.g., analyst rankings in Institutional Investor), and some organizations provide companywide performance results and publicly recognize top performers.”

Correct use: To make a high-performing employee visible to the community, “some industries have formal rankings that broadcast the best and brightest workers . . ., and some organizations provide companywide performance results and publicly recognize top performers” (Call et al., 2015, p. 629).

Incorrect use: To make a high-performing employee visible to the community, “Some industries have formal rankings that broadcast the best and brightest workers, and some organizations provide companywide performance results and publicly recognize top performers” (Call et al., 2015, p. 629).

An Ellipsis for a Quotation Spanning Multiple Sentences

A longer quotation might span multiple sentences. Use four ellipsis points (rather than three) to indicate any omission between two sentences. The first point indicates the period at the end of the first sentence quoted, and the three spaced ellipsis points follow.

Original sentences: “Beyond competitive pay and deep networks, stars—more than others—may be motivated to remain with organizations that provide opportunities to influence others or be involved in strategic decision-making. For example, a star union leader who is trusted to negotiate on behalf of membership may be motivated by nonfinancial opportunities, such as the chance to be seen as a leader, and hence, appealing to self-enhancement and self-expansion motives as described earlier. Thus, providing such influence opportunities may help organizations retain stars more than they help retain other employees.”

Correct use: Call et al. (2015) theorized that star employees “may be motivated to remain with organizations that provide opportunities to influence others or be involved in strategic decision-making. . . . providing such influence opportunities may help organizations retain stars more than they help retain other employees” (p. 633).

Incorrect use: Call et al. (2015) theorized that star employees “may be motivated to remain with organizations that provide opportunities to influence others or be involved in strategic decision-making . . . providing such influence opportunities may help organizations retain stars more than they help retain other employees” (p. 633).

For more information, see Publication Manual § 6.08. Do you have any other questions regarding the use of ellipses and quotation marks? Leave a comment below.

Source: Call, M. L., Nyberg, A. J., & Thatcher, S. M. B. (2015). Stargazing: An integrative conceptual review, theoretical reconciliation, and extension for star employee research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 623–640. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039100

 

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