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colons : : : : : : : : : and semicolons ; ; ; ; ; . within sentences. For use with Technical Editing, 3rd ed. This presentation distinguishes colons from semicolons so that you can use them accurately in sentences.

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colons and semicolons

colons : : : : : : : : : and semicolons ; ; ; ; ;

within sentences

For use with Technical Editing, 3rd ed.

slide2
This presentation distinguishes colons from semicolons so that you can use them accurately in sentences.
  • The presentation reviews both grammatical and stylistic reasons for choosing colons or semicolons.
a basic principle of comprehension
A basic principle of comprehension
  • In order to comprehend, readers need to see relationships. When punctuation separates parts that readers must comprehend as related, the punctuation interferes with comprehension.
application bad examples
Application (bad examples)
  • Do not use punctuation to separate parts of sentences that belong together.
    • subject and verb

The manual, includes four chapters.

    • verb and object

The manual includes: four chapters.

    • preposition and object

The manual includes helpful topics, such as: page layout, color, and typography.

separating what should be connected
Separating what should be connected
  • The manual, includes four chapters.
  • The manual includes: four chapters.
  • The manual includes helpful topics, such as: page layout, color, and typography.

Such punctuation contributes nothing to comprehension and probably interferes.

sample sentences
Sample sentences

Do not use a colon between the verb and object or between preposition and object.

Ineffective

  • Citizenship requires: honesty and respect.

colon separates verb “requires” from object.

  • Use a title such as: Dr., Mrs., or Mr.

colon separates preposition “as” from object.

using the colon correctly
Using the colon correctly

Use a colon in a sentence before an embedded list only if the whole phrase or clause before the colon is complete (s-v-o).

Effective (the object precedes the colon; the thought is complete)

subject verb objectResearch emphasizes three areas: stabilizing, improving, and upgrading.

using colons grammatically
Using colons grammatically

Connect parts of sentences that belong together.

Don’t separate these parts with punctuation

subject-verb

verb-direct object

preposition-object

using colons stylistically
Using colons stylistically

Colons and semicolons are often (not always) interchangeable grammatically, but they communicate different meanings.

Choosing one or the other shapes a reader’s response.

what a colon means
What a colon means

The colon communicates expectation.

It signals a reader to look for additional clarifying information.

colon signals expectation
Colon signals expectation

The product designers stated three goals:

[the reader wonders: what three goals?]

Our new model has great promise: in independent tests, it was faster than competing models.

[at the colon, the reader wonders: what is the promise? what is the evidence?]

when to use a colon
When to use a colon
  • Use a colon when you could insert “namely” at the point of punctuation.
  • Use a colon when the second clause is more specific than the first clause.
    • The product designers stated three goals: [namely,…]
    • Our new model has great promise: [namely,…]
what a semicolon means
What a semicolon means
  • The semicolon communicates balance.
  • It links clauses that are closely related in meaning but about equal in importance.
    • Test A measured seek time; Test B measured access time.
when to use a semicolon
When to use a semicolon
  • Use a semicolon in compound sentences when there is no coordinating conjunction.
    • Some editors work best on hard copy; other editors prefer to work online.
when to use a semicolon15
When to use a semicolon
  • Sometimes use a semicolon in a complex series when some items in the series use commas.
    • The technical communicator needs subject-matter knowledge; skills with software and hardware; and ability to research, organize, and display information.
summary grammar
Summary: Grammar
  • Use punctuation to show relationships.
  • Punctuation that separates things that belong together (such as subject and verb, preposition and object) interferes with comprehension.
summary style
Summary: Style
  • Colon -- expectation
  • Semicolon – balance
return to companion website for technical editing 4e http www ablongman com rude
Return to companion website for Technical Editing 4ehttp://www.ablongman.com/rude/