View Full Version : Question Mark + ellipses or double dash

01-18-2013, 10:41 PM
I know the question mark comes before the exclamation point when used in unison, but what about the question mark and ellipses?

...? or ?...

The script has it as Where...?, but that looks weird to me for some reason.

And now that I'm looking at it again, I believe the ellipsis should actually be a double dash, as the character is cutting herself off by answering her own internal question in the next panel, rather than her thought trailing off.

So, should that be a double dash or ellipses, and either way, where should I put the question mark?

01-19-2013, 12:20 AM


"He's a ghost...?"

However, there might be special cases where the author wants to use elipses by themselves, to denote a silence with no reply or speechlessness, such as this:

"He's a ghost? ..."

Which in a balloon would look something like this:

He's a

I prefer double dashes only for a character being outwardly interrupted. Like an explosion or someone else talking over them. Others may disagree.

Thomas Mauer
01-19-2013, 07:25 AM
Put those ellipsis in a seperate balloon and you increase their impact.

Todd Klein
01-19-2013, 07:30 AM
Generally …? or …! but I've seen …?… and …!… as well.

01-19-2013, 11:53 AM
Not that I'm a nazi about this - and if I'm flat out doing something wrong here, I'll be more than grateful to be told - but...

My personal preference is to never, EVER use "...?"

It just looks wrong to me. Like there's one dot too many in there. So instead, I use "..?"

To my way of thinking, it just looks more elegant.

Also, my personal take on separating the ellipses into their own balloon is that it can be very powerful. But it can also be very easily overdone. More of a writing concern than lettering, but I find that, generally, when I review my own scripts, instances of that are the first thing I trim back.

Todd Klein
01-19-2013, 12:25 PM
HdE, an ellipses is, by definition, three dots. You can certainly use less or more as you like, but that's the standard.

01-19-2013, 12:28 PM
Thanks for all the input guys. It's actually an internal monologue caption box rather than a balloon if that makes any difference. Putting the ellipses in a separate box seems a little more disjointed than putting them in a separate but joined balloon.

Another question: Since the first box ends in a question mark and not ellipses, does that mean I don't need to start the following box with ellipses?

Here's the script excerpt:
Panel two:

2/CALEXA/CAP: Where…?

Panel three:


4/CALEXA/CAP: Cemetery. Right.

5/CALEXA/CAP: Great.

Todd Klein
01-19-2013, 12:48 PM
4 is not a continuation of 2, so the script is correct as is, I'd say.

01-19-2013, 12:53 PM
Can't argue with the master. Many thanks, Mr. Klein. Love your blog, by the way!

01-20-2013, 09:02 AM
Everything that Todd said...


01-20-2013, 05:37 PM
HdE, an ellipses is, by definition, three dots. You can certainly use less or more as you like, but that's the standard.

AWESOME, sir! Thank you very much.

Comics Commando
02-02-2013, 03:17 AM
The short answer is:

Do what the script says.....If you're just the letterer--no offense.

On many I books I do I'm often a consultant of sorts, not quite an editor, per se, but a trusted adviser who's opinion is sought--and appreciated. I weigh in on storytelling problems, how to fix them, get the material up to snuff so it has a chance to compete on the open market. It depends on the client.

On others, I'm hired to do letters, nothing else--so my script is my bible. If it's screwed up, so what? If it's screwed up enough, I'll politely ask that my name be removed from the credits so my rep doesn't suffer. I did this routinely at Image Comics.


I also do writing and have a specific idea of when to use dashes over ellipses.

Some writers seem to use them interchangeably--which, of course, diminishes their meaning over the course of a few pages or an issue. It amazes me how often a writer will sabotage his own work ever so subtly.

Frankly a ? followed by ... makes no sense to me. What does that indicate? I'm asking a question--now I'll pause?? So I can hear the answer?

The ? creates a finality. I've seen the above style in a number of silver age comics recently--and it's really distracting. Or a ! followed by ... What the hell does that mean?? I'm being emphatic--but, then maybe I'm not as emphatic as I thought!...

Frankly it's sloppy writing. I've also seen online scripts with ellipses with seemingly no end..................

How does one go about lettering that?!

But yer right about the dashes--it relates being cut off better than ... does.

But ...? is perfectly acceptable---not sure why you think it looks odd. I've been reading comics for 40 plus years and working as a pro for almost 30--I don't see a problem there. You may not see that kinda punctuation in a novel [?] but comics have a language--and even a punctuation system--that's all its own.

I cover the odd punctuation in my comics script guide to clear up some of these questions.

I'm doing a series of books now with lots of ... balloons. I think it's clumsy and doesn't have any real impact. Once in a while, sure...but every page? No.

But--the script says do it--so I do.

Kurt Hathaway