Here is the answer: Sometimes the information after a colon is a complete sentence; sometimes it isn’t. You do not need to use a capital letter after a colon even if what follows is a complete sentence — with these few exceptions:
- The word following the colon is generally capitalized (a name, for example)
- The sentence following the colon is a direct quotation.
- The sentences are items in a list. Thus, they would look better capitalized.
Here are some examples:
- These people are coming to the party: Hermione, Lester, and Carter
- The mayor made the following comment: “We plan to support the new development downtown.”
- Follow these steps to make the pie filling:
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Let the mixture thicken by putting it in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Stir well again.
You do not need to capitalize the word after the colon in these examples:
- These are the ingredients: cocoa, milk, butter, and vanilla.
- He talked about the main item on the meeting agenda: the company will give Christmas bonuses this year.
You could capitalize the T in the in the second example, but it is not necessary.
Stay tuned for next week’s annual holiday post. And we will start the new year off with a post about colons and semicolons (like, what’s the difference??)
Grammar Diva News
- The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! (Second Edition) is at a special sale price today, Saturday, and Sunday on Kindle. It will cost you only $2.99 instead of the usual $5.99 for the ebook. Makes a great gift for a student (hint, hint)
- I was pleased and proud to be among the four top winners in the BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association) 2016 Book Awards! The award-winning book is Fifty Shades of Grammar: Scintillating and Saucy Sentences, Syntax, and Semantics from The Grammar Diva.
- Here is my news release about the book awards.
- Beginning December 21 and running through January 21, I am doing a Goodreads Giveaway: five print copies of The Best Little Grammar Workbook Ever! will be given away. You can sign up beginning on December 21.