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Do Your Own » Changing Quoted Words and Leaving Them Out

Leaving Words Out

Sometimes you will need to leave words out in the middle of your quotation, because they are not relevant to the point you are making. To indicate that you have left words out, use ellipsis points, which are simply three dots:

     . . .


Here's an example. Read the following passage from a New Yorker magazine article about Joe DiMaggio:

"While some stars established vivid personalities on the field—Lefty Gomez was lighthearted, Ted Williams juvenile and impetuous—DiMaggio, whose gaze was averted and manner diffident to offish, wanted us to notice only how he played."

Let's say you wanted to quote from this passage, but only wanted to include these words: While some stars established vivid personalities on the field, DiMaggio wanted us to notice only how he played. Simple—insert three dots wherever you took words out:

"While some stars established vivid personalities on the field . . . DiMaggio . . . wanted us to notice only how he played."

Leaving Out Words From More Than One Sentence

If you quote part of one sentence, leave out some words, then quote part of the next sentence, use four dots, the fourth to indicate that there was a period in the part you removed.

Changing Quoted Words

Sometimes you will need to slightly change the words you quote, either to make the quotation work smoothly with your sentence, or to add information you think your reader might need. In this case, put any words that are not exactly what was originally written inside brackets:

[ ]

For example, if you wanted to quote from the passage above, but you suspect that not everyone knows what DiMaggio's first name was, you could add it, putting it in brackets to show that the original passage only used his last name: "[Joe] DiMaggio . . . wanted us to notice only how he played."

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