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Should the first word after a colon be capitalized?

"For example: This."


"For example: this."

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

This can go either way. If you are starting a complete sentence that represents a summation of what came before, you are certainly entitled to capitalize the sentence.

Here's an example of such a sentence: There is a sentence after the preceding colon.

But if you are using the colon to offset a list or other material that does not form a complete sentence, it makes no sense to capitalize what follows:

Here are some examples of breakfast foods: eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, orange juice, coffee.

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@Maxpm -- Unless you get unlucky with something like: Here are some places where they speak English: America, most of Europe, Canada. =) – BeemerGuy Dec 16 '10 at 22:52

The answer is culturally dependent. In English, we would not capitalise after a colon (unless the next word was a proper noun). However, it appears that in American English the rules are different... and different depending on whose style rules you are following.

For example, you may follow a colon with a capital if it follows with:

  • a proper noun
  • direct speech
  • a complete sentence
  • two complete sentences

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colon_(punctuation)#Use_of_capitals

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by English, you mean British English – Theta30 Nov 26 '11 at 23:06
No, I meant 'English'. By all means, if you speak a variant, call the mother tongue 'British English', but don't expect us to. – CJM Nov 27 '11 at 9:28
So, are you talking about the English you spoke in the 1600s when you colonized us, or the variant you speak now? – KutuluMike Sep 11 '15 at 11:59
@MikeEdenfield I think he was talking about the language spoken in England, namely English. Since in Poland they speak Polish, and in France they speak French, in Spain - Spanish, is it little wonder that the language spoken in England be called English. – WS2 Nov 6 '15 at 15:55
Has Bristol seceded? 'There is some debate about whether the clause following the colon should begin with a capital letter or not.... If the explanation that follows the colon contains more than one sentence, you should use a capital letter. In other cases, some guides simply advise consistency, others advise that a capital should always be used.' {University of Bristol Faculty of Arts} – Edwin Ashworth Jul 20 at 10:34

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