Ellipsis and Em Dash


  • An ellipsis is … and it is rarely used.
  • Use only if an individual trails off at the end of a statement.

Em Dash

  • An em dash is — as shown here.
  • Use the em dash to indicate a speaker’s break in thought. .
  • Do not insert spaces before or after the em dash

  • Examples:

They tried bribing, and even demanding cooperation from their staff—all of whom were swamped with other work—before they gave up and wrote the report themselves.

After they wrote the report, they discovered—actually, they weren’t able to complete it for several months.

  • If one person interrupts another and you need to go to another line for the speaker who interrupts, use an em dash. When the stream of conversation starts up again from the first speaker, use a hyphen and one space, and do not capitalize the next word.
  • Interviewee:            What I was saying is that—

    Interviewer:             Let’s move to the next topic.

    Interviewee:            - it’s not a good idea to promote.

  • If there are many interruptions or a lot of crosstalk occurring in a non-strict verbatim transcript, try to minimize the number of breaks for ease of readability by including short breaks on the same line.
Typed as:
Interviewee:           Can I say that— Interviewee:           That’s— Interviewee:           - I don’t— Interviewee:           - not— Interviewee:          - agree? Interviewee:          - what I said.
Interviewee:           Can I say that I don't agree? Interviewee:           That’s not what I said.
  • If the recording begins in the middle of a sentence, use the em dash as a lead to precede the paragraph, not an ellipsis.
💽How to Format Em Dashes in Microsoft Word