How to typeset a missing word correctly?

What is the typographically correct way to typeset a missing or left out word in a sentence?

For example, “You should brush your ——— every morning!”. Where “teeth” would be the word intentionally left out.

The Punctuation Guide talks about this:

When an entire word is missing, either two or three em dashes can be used. Whichever length you choose, use it consistently throughout your document. Surrounding punctuation should be placed as usual.

However, I am not sure if this is the typographically correct way, or was just born out of necessity. Alternatives I can think of are underscores or ellipses.


Do you want to mark only the place where a word is missing or do you want the reader to fill in by hand writing the missing word for an exercise?

  • If you want the reader to fill in the missing word I would use underscore(s).
  • If you want to give a hint you can write one underscore for one letter.
  • If there should be no hint, use for example always 8 underscores to reserve enough place for the reader to fill in what is needed.
  • If you only want to mark missing words you can follow the answer of user @AndrewH.


“You should brush your teeth every morning!”.

“You should brush your _ _ _ _ _ every morning!”. (hint number letters in word)

“You should brush your ________ every morning!”. (Place for longer words too)

Source : Link , Question Author : Lukas Schmelzeisen , Answer Author : Community

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