Stop Using Ellipses

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Many very smart people have commented on the abuse of ellipses. See for example, this great post on PR Breakfast Club, Your Copy Sucks: In Offense of Ellipses by TJ Dietderich.

After my post from yesterday on single spaces, I thought it was time I addressed this topic as well. Especially since I have recently seen a cover letter written with ellipses. Yikes!

Now that you are over that initial shock, let me review what ellipses are supposed to be.

According to Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips on the topic, ellipses are most commonly used to show omitted words.

“It’s acceptable to tighten a long quotation by omitting unnecessary words, but it’s important that you don’t change the meaning,” she writes.

Ellipses are also used to show a pause in conversation. This is where the cover letter writer and many others use ellipses wrong.

Again from the same Grammar Girl post, The Chicago Manual of Style states, “Ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty.” Not exactly points you want to convey to a potential employer.

In summary, please stop using ellipses. You are most likely using them incorrectly and are telling your reader you can’t complete a thought or full sentence.

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As you well know, Time is Money

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How do you determine what your time is worth? How about your expertise? Knowledge? Advice? We all give our advice and suggestions to friends and family for free. Is there a right time to stop this practice (maybe not for your family, but friends and friends of friends)?

Kate Ottavio has not one, but two great posts on the topic at PR Breakfast Club: Give it away… For Free! and Bring on the money! Working for free… (both excellent reads).

She makes an excellent point that “one will be asking us for our advice when we‘re out of a job or have closed shop.” Which is true.

I think there comes a time in every professional’s life where they want to make money and when your time becomes even more valuable.

If you aren’t comfortable quoting your friend your hourly rate, see if there is something you can barter for. Maybe your friend is an excellent web page designer and you are a great copy editor. Offer to edit his next term paper in exchange for helping you with your website. There is always something.

I know I’ve said it before, but don’t sell yourself short either. Make your projects worth your time and don’t be afraid to say no when the project isn’t worth your time. Obviously, try to leave the door open in case that changes, but don’t just accept a project to accept it or because you think there isn’t anything better out there. There will be.