Q. I am editing a manuscript in which the author loves to use quotation marks around special expressions that are not to be taken literally. Eliminating them is not an option. The problem I am having is that at the end of a quotation that ends a sentence he often uses ellipsis. Here is an actual example: It might be illuminating to pursue the relationship between Goffmanian and Christian usages of stigma and stigmatization in the context of guilty knowledge, confession, healing, guilt, forgiveness, and “the marked man/woman.” . . . (The ellipsis is his.) What do you think?
A. Ellipses indicating thought that trails off can create the effect of a person dithering along in idle speculation rather than a writer crafting thoughtful arguments. A surfeit of dots results in a weak and hesitant argument. Material like this is not likely to benefit from a wifty tone; I would edit out the ellipses.