Colons and semicolons


Use a colon (rather than an ellipses, em dash, or comma) to offset a list.

  • Erin ordered three kinds of donuts: glazed, chocolate and pumpkin.

You can also use a colon to join two related phrases. If a complete sentence follows the colon, capitalize the first word.

  • I was faced with a dilemma: I wanted a donut, but I’d just eaten a bagel.


Go easy on semicolons. They usually support long, complicated sentences that could easily be simplified. Try an em dash (—) instead, or simply start a new sentence.

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