How should one typeset an elided passage in a quote?

An example:

some text [...] then some more

Elision in a quote is usually indicated by an ellipsis (three dots) in square brackets. I have tried variations on [ \ldots ], [\ldots], \emph{[ \ldots ]} and \emph{[\ldots]}, which all look quite ugly. Since the specific quotation environment typesets the quote in italics, the best so far seems to be \emph{[\,\ldots ]}.

However, this seems a horribly fragile and hacky way to achieve a nice-looking indication that some part of the quote has been left out. Is there a standard way to do this, or should I start experimenting with under-the-hood things like boxes, negative kerning, and \phantom?

(By the way, I'm not sure elision is the right technical term here, I'd welcome a pointer to the correct term.)

  • 4
    As an aside, its most common not to use square brackets with ellipsis for omissions, but only for added text; off the top of my head, only the MLA Handbook always wants them. Butcher's Copy-editing says "It is not usual to place ellipses in square brackets, unless they need to be distinguished from ellipses used by the quoted author". Sep 23, 2010 at 6:35
  • @CharlesStewart Certainly, as you explained, square brackets are not recommended, unless you have to distinguish your ellipses from the ones used by the author (See MLA Handbook). However, in my opinion, it is more consistent to put everything omitted or added to the citation in brackets. Jun 7, 2021 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


How about something like the following?

  • That looks promising, will try that. Is \dots the same as \ldots outside mathmode? Sep 23, 2010 at 2:23
  • @András Salamon: They're identical in every case.
    – TH.
    Sep 23, 2010 at 2:43
  • I’m not really happy with the spacing command. Are you sure it belongs there? Sep 23, 2010 at 8:21
  • 3
    \dots is not identical to \ldots in math mode if the amsmath package is loaded.
    – Philipp
    Sep 23, 2010 at 8:56
  • 1
    @Philipp: Erm, it's not identical if I redefine it either. Looks like amsmath redefines \dots to try to be smart about what's coming up next in math mode. But I guess, you're right, I said "every case" and I should have said that the LaTeX kernel defines them to be identical, packages can change that.
    – TH.
    Sep 23, 2010 at 9:16

Old question, but it was the first to come up on my google search. If anyone is still looking, the \textelp{} command from the csquotes package provides exactly the functionality requested:



\enquote{The csquotes package provides elipses, \textelp{} as well as smart quoting.}


Code example

  • 1
    Moreover, \textelp was added in June 2010, preceding this question by several months. Feb 18, 2016 at 19:30
  • Thanks for this clean package solution. I had been using [\textellipsis] and was quite unsatisfied with it. Jun 7, 2021 at 13:08

Elision is the omission of one or more sounds. If it can be applied as a typographical term, I am not sure. However, since an ellipsis represents dot-dot-dot an ellipsis within square brackets named an elision seems like a good idea.

Both \dots and \ldots would print the same. They are both defined the same way in TeX.

 \mathchardef\ldotp="613A % ldot as a punctuation mark

The reason that Math mode is used is to ensure that the normal rules for spacing are not applied here.

An ellipsis within a square bracket looks ugly! It is an intrusion within the text. Bringhurst suggests that normally an ellipsis should be spaced fore-and-aft to separate it from the text, but when it combines with other punctuation, the leading space disappears and the other punctuation follows. So to define the command fully, one needs to take all aspects into consideration.

TH's suggestion is possibly the best you can get, I would just add xspace, in case someone sticks an elision at the end of the sentence or starts a new sentence after it.


This should have gone probably as a comment rather than an answer, but I thought you would find the TeX code of interest.

  • LaTeX defines it quite differently.
    – TH.
    Sep 23, 2010 at 4:45
  • @TH Never thought, it would have been different! I will take a peek!
    – yannisl
    Sep 23, 2010 at 4:48
  • In writing, elision usually refers to contracting enumerations to ranges, e.g., "pages 73, 74, and 75" to "pp. 73-5". Sep 23, 2010 at 6:51
  • In my dictionary, "the omission of a sound or syllable when speaking; an omission of a passage in a book, speech, or film; the process of joining together or mergin things, esp. abstract ideas."
    – TH.
    Sep 23, 2010 at 7:01
  • @TH you are right that the LaTeX definition is different. They define it via \textellipsis, which ultimately depends on the font dimensions.
    – yannisl
    Sep 23, 2010 at 14:21

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