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Should the first word after a colon be capitalized?

"For example: This."

OR

"For example: this."

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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 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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2  
@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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4  
by English, you mean British English –  Theta30 Nov 26 '11 at 23:06
6  
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

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