Punctuation

Q. I am unclear on whether you always use brackets for ellipses that the author quoting the material has inserted. For example, in this quote, the quoting author has inserted ellipses. Would every instance of ellipses therefore be bracketed? “Make manifest the nature of the Moral-Mental-Physical Conflict; . . . discern a Pattern for Successful Operations; . . . help generalize Tactics and Strategy; . . . find a basis for Grand Strategy.”

A. It depends. In a work where all the ellipses mean that the writer has omitted a part of the original when quoting, readers will understand what’s going on and there’s no need for brackets. It gets tricky if the same document quotes from an original that has an ellipsis in it. That means there are two kinds of ellipses, and they need to be distinguished somehow. And that’s when brackets are used for the author’s own ellipses. (Sometimes it’s a good idea to explain this method to your readers.) An alternative is to skip the brackets and write “(ellipsis in original)” when needed.