Posted by: episystechpubs | April 28, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Semicolon or Colon?

Recently, Kara gave a great presentation called What You Need to Know about Common Grammatical Errors. During the Q&A, someone asked, “How do I know when to use a colon and when to use a semicolon?” Today, I’m going to answer that question. I won’t give you all the rules for colons and semicolons, just the main rule that differentiates the two.

· Use a semicolon to separate two complete sentences.

Example: On Friday, she went out with a man she met on; on Saturday, she closed her account.

Note: Use a semicolon rather than a period to separate two complete sentences when the sentences are closely related. (We use semicolons in our documentation, but not frequently.)

· Use a colon to separate a complete sentence from an item or a list that illustrates or amplifies the sentence. (A colon generally means “as follows.”)

Example: The man had only three topics of conversation: his cat, his collection of horror movie paraphernalia, and his mother.

Note: The text that comes before the colon must always be a complete sentence. The text that comes after the colon provides further explanation and does not have to be a complete sentence.

Make the best of the rest of your day.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Technical Editor, Adv. | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Technical Publications Writing and Editing Requests

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