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Which one is correct?

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015. Read more... (Note the three dots after the word 'more'.)

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015. Read more.... (Note the four dots after the word 'more'.)

The questions:

1) Under which circumstances can we put more than one dot ('.') within a sentence?

2) Under which circumstances can we put more than one dot ('.') at the end of the sentence?

3) Is there any rule that talks about the number of dots to be put?

Microsoft Word suggests the exact number i.e. 3 dots (...) and shows an error when I put more than 3 dots (.....) in the above mentioned Read more... case.

  • I'm not sure about this since I don't use Microsoft Word myself. But doesn't it change a group of three dots (...) into an ellipsis (Unicode character U+2026), which is a single character, automatically? – Damkerng T. Nov 26 '13 at 8:22
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    To me, if someone write "Read more ...", I will think he paused to arouse my attention for a while, and he should write something more for me to read after that sentence. Otherwise, I will feel like I was left hanging. (Similar to when you watch an episode of a TV series, and when the story was near the climax, the episode ended just like that. A good trick to encourage us to wait for the next episode. :) – Damkerng T. Nov 26 '13 at 13:16
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    There is a convention is to replace text (within a single sentence) with three dots and bridge across sentences with four. Beyond that, you can place however many you like. It becomes a question of stylistic preference. In my personal opinion, any more than three would be superfluous in this context—I would even prefer no ellipsis, since this is basically a button, not a sentence (it is whole and complete by itself). That said, there's an element of leading that could be argued for. Read more here and here. – Tyler James Young Nov 26 '13 at 16:52
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    The standard is three dots for this particular punctuation mark, although you will occasionally see more used, such as when someone's speech suddenly trails off in an abrupt way.... @hippietrail - although some font enthusiasts may disagree with me, a majority of the time, it makes little difference whether you use an … or ... – unless you happen to be using an monospaced font. (Yes, that's an elipsis character and three dots in my sentence; if you can tell the difference, your eyes are better than mine.) – J.R. Nov 27 '13 at 10:35
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    Moreover, there is an option in Word where you can shut off the function of automatically changing multiple dots to an elipsis character. Word is NOT a good indicator when trying to figure out "proper" grammar and punctuation. – J.R. Nov 27 '13 at 10:38
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First of all, I would like to recommend reading a post by Grammar Girl, The Write Practice, and of course Wikipedia.

I've seen many styles of this ellipsis usage. The more technically correct term for this "three dots" is points of ellipsis, where ellipsis actually refers to the omission, not the punctuation mark.

Most styles seem to agree that we should that Unicode character U+2026 for a points of ellipsis in documents. But when we type on the web, we usually type the dot character (some will call it a period). Some styles suggest typing dots with space in between, like this ". . .", others suggest that you don't need those spaces, that is you can simply type it like this "...". But one thing is certain, we always use exactly three dots for this punctuation mark.

Here is a good rule of thumb that all styles I've checked seem to agree: treat this points of ellipsis punctuation mark as if it were words, whatever words we left out, that is.

Another usage is to use the points of ellipsis for a slight pause in speech, which becomes widely used on the web, e.g.

I want to tell you something...

But you already know what I am thinking...

Well, never mind that...

Let's go there...

I will buy you a drink

which, to some people, can be quite annoying.

A points of ellipsis at the end of a sentence

When a points of ellipse is used in writing, it can be confusing if we want to use this punctuation mark at the end of a sentence, or between sentences. I believe that some style guides will suggest you to avoid this. However, I usually see respectable books use it like this,

Firstly, . . . Secondly, . . . Thirdly, . . .

Note that there are three sentences, not just one.

But that is the style that puts spaces inside the points of ellipse mark. If we don't put spaces inside, it would become: Firstly, ... Secondly, ... Thirdly, ...

According to the mentioned Wikipedia page, one style says,

There are two commonly used methods of using ellipses: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second one makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: . . .) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . ...). An ellipsis at the end of a sentence with a sentence following should be preceded by a period (for a total of four dots).

I found one of this four dots used in one of the references I mentioned,

"I can’t believe that I managed to escape with my life. ... We’re lucky to be alive."

The questions

Let's get back to your questions...

Which one is correct?

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015. Read more... (Note the three dots after the word 'more'.)

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015. Read more.... (Note the four dots after the word 'more'.)

I would say it depends. But in this case, "Read more...." seems odd since there is no sentence after it. This is quite similar to the title of one reference I listed, How To Use an Ellipsis… Correctly.

1) Under which circumstances can we put more than one dot ('.') within a sentence?

2) Under which circumstances can we put more than one dot ('.') at the end of the sentence?

3) Is there any rule that talks about the number of dots to be put?

These questions were already answered in the beginning of my post. To sum it up, we always use three dots for a points of ellipsis. We usually use this punctuation mark to represent either omissions or pauses in speech and written text. You can find general rules in some references I mentioned, and for the exact rules you should consult your manual of style.

Hope this helps.

  • As opposed to "a period and a space before three dots," MLA suggests "When the ellipsis coincides with the end of your sentence, use three periods with a space before each following a sentence period–that is, four periods, with no space before the first or after the last." dailywritingtips.com/in-search-of-a-4-dot-ellipsis Typically this would be used when the omission is within the sentence but brings us up to the sentence end. Period+space+ellipsis is, however, useful to indicate that the ellipsis belongs to the beginning of the next sentence or a wholly omitted other sentence. – nxx Mar 15 '14 at 0:41
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The standard mark for an ellipsis is in fact three dots/periods, but informally it doesn't matter.

You can use ellipses for a number of uses--some of which are only appropriate for narratives or dialog--not all of which are acceptable to all speakers:

The use that almost everyone will agree with is when you're quoting a block of text, but only including portions of the text. It indicates that there is additional text that you've omitted. So if, for example, I wanted to quote portions of your question, it might look something like this:

Which one is correct?

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015. Read more... (Note the three dots after the word 'more'.)

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015 ... Microsoft Word suggests the exact number i.e. 3 dots ...

Ellipses are also used in stream of consciousness writing, which involves a non-linear narrative that jumps from thought to thought using loose connections or associations. It's a bit like rattling off a series of thoughts. This is an oversimplification, but it'd look something like this:

I've been just sitting here ... it's raining, and I'm bored ... the sky is gray ... the ceiling is white ... and I'd like to take a walk, but I can't find my shoes.

Those are the most common uses. Here I'm going to start wading beyond terra firma. Sometimes they are used in narratives to indicate a voice or tone that is trailing off or fading out in the background, or to signal an ending that isn't abrupt or final. It suggests there is more to come:

I'll see you tomorrow ...

Informally, they're sometimes used in place of colons. For example, in your question, I'd replace both ellipses after read more with colons.

Here's what I'm talking about:

Here's what I'm talking about ...

This is the most controversial use, but some use them in place of em-dashes or commas for appositives. In my mind this is improper, but I have no objection to the informal use:

I wish I'd thought of a better way to explain this ... that is, with greater clarity ... without using ellipses.

Finally, in answer to the question, Is there any rule that talks about the number of dots to be put, the standard is, as I've mentioned, three. There is one instance that I can think of where you might find four; that is, when you're quoting and are skipping from the end of a complete sentence to another portion of text. Again, using your question as an example, that might look something like this:

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015. ...

The latest research says that the number of mobile Internet users will increase by three times in 2015. ...

This last one is completely non-standard. The general rule is that when ending a sentence with an abbreviation or an ellipsis, the ellipsis replaces the period, which is superfluous.

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In computer programming, many user interface style guides say to use an ellipsis (…) at the end of a menu item that will bring up a new screen.

In the original post's example, the "Read more…" text invites the user to click the text in order to bring up another page. This is analogous to a menu item that brings up a new screen. The author may have extended the menu design rule to this situation.

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