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The second sentence of a colon

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The second sentence of a colon

Postby lazuliangel » Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:34 pm

Here's something I've noticed in newspapers for which I find no clear-cut rule.

There seem to be two ways of approaching what follows a colon, and that is to capitalise or not to capitalise. Which is it?

I've seen people do this: They capitalise the first letter following the mark. I've seen others who do it such: they don't. My own leaning is towards the latter, as I was always taught that the colon provides for a continuation of a sentence, rather than helps to begin a new one. Does anyone know of any MLA ruling or any such King's English grammatical rule that would shed light on this?
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Postby JJ » Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:31 pm

I simply cahhhn't believe that none of you avocational gramma-ficaters will engage the Irish Blue babe here--I mean, what a legitimate question!

Me, I just don't know.

C'mon, gang...

JJ
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Postby Apoclima » Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:24 pm

the rule is simple: If the material following the colon is a complete sentence, it begins w ith a capital letter.


Questions on Colons

I didn't know this one either: I have never capitalized (except the pronoun "I") after a colon, even if it was a complete sentence.

Thanks for asking, lazuliangel! And thanks for making the challenge, JJ!

Apo
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So now we know!

Postby lazuliangel » Sat Mar 11, 2006 4:22 pm

Fantastic, Apo! Cheers for that.

I feel a bit ashamed for having heavily censored the poor Irish Times journalists now...
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Postby anders » Sat Mar 11, 2006 7:53 pm

Apoclima wrote:
the rule is simple: If the material following the colon is a complete sentence, it begins with a capital letter.

The Swedish rules are a bit more wordy, but in essence the same: If what follows is a direct quote or quotation, or an exhortation, exclamation or a question, or when more than one sentence follows, use a capital.

But if that were Swedish, I would have used lower case ': if' ("explanation, summary or the like"). Then, the 'complete sentence' rule loses.
Irren ist männlich
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Re: The second sentence of a colon

Postby Andrew Dalby » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:08 am

lazuliangel wrote:Here's something I've noticed in newspapers for which I find no clear-cut rule.

There seem to be two ways of approaching what follows a colon, and that is to capitalise or not to capitalise. Which is it?


The copy-editor for a book I've just completed (for W. W. Norton, New York) imposed this rule that if what follows the colon is a complete sentence, it should begin with a capital. I had never heard of this before, no British copy-editor in my experience has adopted it, and I have never yet seen the rule applied in a printed book. It must be very new.

I didn't quibble -- there are more important things to worry about -- but, yes, I'd like to know who first had the idea and why.
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Postby JUDYPOOH » Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:31 pm

I naturally tend to capitalize the word following the colon, but recall ALWAYS having it corrected while in college. For this reason I now always follow the colon with a lower-case letter.
Never heard of the complete sentence rule.
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Postby Huia Iesou » Sat Apr 29, 2006 6:42 am

To me capitalizing the second clause interrupts flow too drastically. It is, after all, part of the same sentence. I prefer to keep it lowercase.
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Postby Bailey » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:16 pm

I agree a clause is just a part of the whole, since in English we capitalize only the first word except for certain important ones the flow is best if the colon is followed by a lower case letter.

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Postby bnjtokyo » Wed May 10, 2006 6:42 am

The Chicago Manual of Style:

"If the material introduced by a colon consists of more than one sentence, or is a formal statement, a quotation, or a speech in dialogue, it should begin with a capital letter. Otherwise it may begin with a lower case letter."

Note there is an unexpected amount of flexibility here:
SHOULD begin and MAY begin. The former suggests a capital letter is not compulsory while the latter suggests that a capital letter would be equally acceptable.

For those seeking simple rules, I would suggest always using a capital letter to take advantage of the flexibility of the latter while satisfying the strongly urged recommendation of the former.
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Postby pat1066 » Wed May 10, 2006 12:45 pm

The meaning of a colon is "note what follows." A list of some sort is expected. All words before a colon should form a complete sentence.

There are many ways to cook chicken: baking, broiling, poaching, frying.
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