Talk:Colon (punctuation)

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{aver dfldskkflowrkwkmrtwoijeroi My English teacher told me: always two spaces after a colon! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

The reason for two spaces is that using a colon means using two 'full stops' - and a full stop is only used at the end of a complete sentence.

The first indicates the end of the complete sentence, and the second 'full stop' indicates a link between the first sentence and the second sentence that follows.

Examples of 'colon' and 'semi-colon' use follow:

(1) He used only the best quality paints for his pictures: He'd saved for many years so he could fully indulge his passion, and purchase all the supplies he would ever need.

(2) He used the following tools to paint his picture: . brush . paint . easel

To link information WITHIN a complete sentence, a semi-colon should be used (not a colon).

(3) He used these tools to paint his picture; a brush; paints, and; an easel.

Longer lists are clearer when bulleted:

(4) He used these tools to paint his picture; . a brush; . paints, and; . an easel.

(NB Items 2 and 4 should be listed vertically, with bullets, but the 'bullet' formatting feature was not evident during writing.)

Capitalization after colons[edit]

I was taught that there is a rule for whether a colon is followed by a lower case letter or a an upper case letter in English. If the clause following the colon could stand on its own as an independent sentence, then it is capitalized. I assume that someone out for there has done a study of how often this rule is followed. Also, is there a Wikipedia philosophy about punctuation rules? Are we trying to be normative?

Me too: I thought the same thing. I hope it wasn't rude for me to insert a clarification request in that section. In AP style, at least, the word following the colon is capitalized when the colon is followed by an independent clause. The entry implies this is the case in German, but not in other European languages. Rangergordon (talk) 10:38, 11 January 2008 (UTC)


There will need to be a redirect to the medical definition of the colon (anatomy) at some point or the user will need to be sent to a disambiguation page first.

Colon is another word for butt.


i removed the following text by user:Npc: "This may be considered somewhat insulting or harsh in some European cultures, where the comma is preferred. Use of colon may denote authority or commanding power to some people in Europe." i thought it was very ugly writting, and i tried to rephrase it. (it also ignored the chance of a world outside of the US and europe) The bellman 00:02, 2004 Oct 28 (UTC)

The paragraph only mentioned Europe because only in Europe is a comma preferred. Also, what is a "chance of a world outside of the US and [E]urope" supposed to mean?

Capitalization after colons[edit]

I'm not sure about how we should capitalize letters after colons in sentences such as, "Here's what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon: forget it." Some here would capitalize "forget", because it begins a complete thought: an answer to the unasked question, "What do I do if I want to get a lift from a Vogon?" This seems more common in British usage and I hadn't encountered it before until recently. Indeed, every time I saw this usage on Wikipedia, I thought it erroneous and "corrected" it. Perhaps we should note this confusion here (or maybe at Capitalization), and perhaps we should add it to the Manual of Style as well... - furrykef (Talk at me) 05:34, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Captialization is optional. Lowercase is always correct. Jsmethers 08:20, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm mildly surprised at the original comment in this section. I'm British, and have always thought capitalisation after colons to be an American thing! It's certainly very uncommon here now, even if that was not the case in the past, and I'd never think of capitalising except for some special purpose. Loganberry (Talk) 01:10, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm not convinced it's so uncommon. Two or three of the examples on the page of examples we link to have capitals after the colon which don't seem to fit the rule given here (i.e. quotes or words which would normally be capitalised), for example.--Oolong 06:49, 7 July 2007 (UTC)


This article was a mess. I did a massive rewrite and grouped most of the uses (except Math, etc.) under "Uses". Some of the information appeared wrong and I removed it. It is possible it is used in the UK that way, if so please replace it, but also make sure and separate US and UK uses of colons. In the US, a colon is never used to separate items in a series (the US uses a semicolon). Rt66lt 23:52, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

Common Errors[edit]

This section said that colons shouldn't be used after verbs, prepositions or dependent clauses. A tad confusing, given that a few lines up we're provided with the following model sentence:

The sign read: "Do not enter."

I also see nothing wrong with these:

There's someone you should talk to: John Smith. It was a road that never ended: it seemed to go on forever.

It sounds like these "rules" are taken from an outdated style guide, maybe one that still considers it an error to end a clause in a preposition. I'm taking them out for now. --Lanius 15:54, 10 January 2006 (UTC) (talk) 04:45, 5 March 2008 (UTC)This page is a mess - I still am not a 100% sure what a colon is in punctuation terms after reading it. I am a native English speaker who has excellent enunciation. I cant imagine how difficult it would be for someone who is learning English as a second language. Please compare this page to the one on semi colons, it is much better.

To, I corrected your typo - anounciation to enunciation - hope that doesn't offend. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:45, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

Example Usage[edit]

I would like to see examples added for each of the usages of the colon in the section "Usages" in the following format (I could not think of any suitable examples at the time of writing so I may leave that to someone with more experience):

  • syntactical-deductive: introduces the logical consequence, or effect, of a fact stated before

Example: A sentence demonstrating this use of the colon 11:24, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

  • I agree, it will be much better and more informative. Punctuations generally are a big problem/issue for non-English-speaking people/students; the more example the easier to grasp the concept.
  • Ditto. —DIV ( 02:45, 5 July 2007 (UTC))
  • I think that, without the explanation provided in the reference (Eats, Shoots & Leaves), the first example under "Appositive" ("Luruns could not speak: He was drunk") is prone to lure an uninformed reader into using a colon in cases where a semicolon would be more appropriate, as in the next sentence. In fact, I cannot easily come up with a good example that conveys the dramatic value of an appositive colon in contrast with a semicolon; some more explanation is required in the section "Appositive". OneAhead (talk) 23:53, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

I wanted to redirect [[:]][edit]

But whenever I click "edit this page" I get sent back to the main page. What's up with that? Citizen Premier 06:56, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Yeah I just tried the same thing. I can't create the [[:]] page. Cuñado Bahaitemplatestar.png - Talk 02:19, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
It looks to be that the colon is a control character in the Wiki engine. For example it has a specific function in the link Wikipedia:Requested_articles.
Also note that searching on a random string — say "weuinbjvb" — results in an option to create the page (e.g. "You can create this page or [...]"). However searching for a full stop using just the symbol "." yields an error. Searching for a colon with ":" is ostensibly carried out properly, but returns no results and the option to create the page [[:]] is corrupted: in particular, it reads "You can [[:|create this page]] or [...]". I say ostensibly, because I surmise that in fact it searches for [blank]:[blank].
—DIV ( 10:10, 5 July 2007 (UTC))
Well, you can link to it, but it takes you to the main page [[ : ]] You just put a space on either side. I wonder if the developers could do anything about it. Andrew Kanode (talk) 23:52, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
And [1] tells me I have a "Bad Title". Andrew Kanode (talk) 23:54, 13 April 2008 (UTC)


Uses in Wikis such as Wikipedia include:

  • {{:Spanish flu research}} will transclude (display the article like a template) the page Spanish flu research instead of Template:Spanish flu research. For content, an article is prefered over a template.
  • At the beginning of a line a colon indents. The more colons, the farther the indent.
  • Separating a namespace ("Wikipedia") and a pagename ("Three-revert rule"). For example, Wikipedia:Three-revert rule.
  • After "subst" in order to substitute a template. For example, {{subst:afd}} will "substitute" the template in, so the text remains unchanged. WAS 4.250 16:15, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

I removed the wiki section. It is very MediaWiki specific (i.e. Confluence or Twiki or what have you all use different syntaxes than this). This information would perhaps belong in a "syntax of MediaWiki" article, but not here. —Matthew0028 23:48, 29 October 2006 (UTC)


In the Europe-part there were some exceptions in using a capital letter after a colon. Here German and Dutch were named like if they were the same. It said in German and Dutch there will be a capital letter after colon when it is followed by a noun. The German language capatalises all nouns, where Dutch doesn't. In the (Dutch!) link given ( it explains what I have now edited out of it. This page does NOT has anything to do with German rules about capitalisation after colons. 16:40, 24 May 2007 (UTC)


I thought I understood how to use colons, but, when trying to add some examples to illustrate some of the cryptic terminology, I couldn't figure out the difference between "syntactical-deductive" and "appositive".

Could an expert take a look at the example sentences in the article, and make sure they clearly illustrate the difference between these two uses? Thanks! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:13, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

"Full-width" version: clarification requested[edit]

The full-width (double-byte) equivalent, , is located at Unicode code point U+FF1A.

The Unicode chart does not seem to explain what this "full-width" version might be used for. Does anyone know? I also don't understand "double byte" -- aren't all Unicode characters two bytes?


Can we have a section on :3 (talk) 03:14, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

":3" meaning what? In what context? (talk) 23:40, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
 :3 is an emoticon. Just like :), :D, :(, et cetera. If you look at it, the "3" resembles a cat mouth or hamster mouth. Though it doesn't mean animal, it can be used to express affections, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:48, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
The use of colons in emoticons is mentioned, along with a few examples, in the "Internet usage" section, along with a link to the Emoticon article. I think the coverage here is adequate. The full list, and their meanings, is best left to the List of emoticons article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:09, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Use of capitals with colons[edit]

The section about the use of capitals with a colon, to which I have just added a cleanup tag, has several problems:

  • It makes a blanket statement about "English", then statements about certain varieties of English that contradict the blanket statement.
  • The flow does not make it clear which of the mentioned style conventions the examples follow.
  • The examples in any case mostly illustrate the obvious cases and ignore the potentially problematic ones.

I could try to fix this but I'm not an expert and I'd prefer someone else to do it. (talk) 23:39, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Two Spaces after Colon (and Period)[edit]

Many word processing software programs of today place more importance on bit-and-byte reduction instead of accurate punctuation. Regardless of a software's punctuaton-check features, the colon and the period should have two spaces after them. That is, if a given writer wishes to follow traditional American punctuation rules. Granted, both punctuation and grammar have become, in our modern times, more a matter of opinon than rules for communication. Such a state is supported by the subjective NPOV criteria. "Subjective NPOV" being a redundant and conflicting phrase in itself. ("subjective NPOV" being redundant; "N" before "POV" being conflicting, since one cannot have a "neutral" point-of-view). [User Tesser501:Tesser501] 27 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tesseract501 (talkcontribs)

Two Spaces after Colon (and Period) is completely and utterly wrong:
  • Using two spaces was a typewriter substitution for long spaces. This substitution was widely used in english speaking countries in former times. It was debateable even then and under that special circumstances.
  • The two-spaces-rule was never correct grammar, it was just a way to make one space appear long in places were typesetting would make that one space long for better reading.
  • Long spaces are correct only between complete sentences, not after every colon.
  • If you want to have a long space these days, you should use a proper long space, not an ugly and problem-riddled substitute.
  • Typesetting software generally automatically elongate spaces. You have to inhibit that where the automatic gets it wrong.
-- Tomdo08 (talk) 11:12, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

Usage of the colon: separation of clauses in a periodic sentence[edit]

Under usage of the colon is listed: "separation of clauses in a periodic sentence". I would like to challenge that. Please give a solid reference. -- Tomdo08 (talk) 11:21, 28 September 2010 (UTC)


Different colons? There is the fullwidth colon vs. ratio. Speling12345 (talk) 10:32, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

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