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This question already has an answer here:

If I write this line in a story:

She said: when are you going?

Does the "when" have to be capitalized? Also, if the "she said" part is not part of a conversation in a novel does the word after the colon have to be capitalized?

Additional info from OP's comment:
I know English uses a comma after "said". I just use a colon for some avant-garde writing. What I am curious about is the capitalization of "when" if a colon is used in whatever context.

marked as duplicate by user140086, Nathaniel, Mitch, Sven Yargs, Brian Hooper Jan 10 '16 at 11:01

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    The moderators at Graphic Design have expressed interest in answering questions about typography. – MetaEd Jul 9 '13 at 20:34
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about style and preference and general reference. It doesn't belong here. – user140086 Jan 4 '16 at 17:09
  • I agree with Nathaniel that the question is essentially a duplicate of the one he identifies, but I disagree with the assertion that style questions about punctuation and capitalization are off-topic at EL&U. In my opinion they are very much on-topic as matters of (written) English usage. – Sven Yargs Jan 10 '16 at 6:41
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As Trevor said in his answer, this is not the standard way to punctuate a quotation.

There are, however, contexts where the punctuation construct you've described would be used. For example:

There are three issues here: grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.

In cases like that, do we capitalize the word after the colon? Here's the short answer: It depends. Grammar Girl says:

it's a style choice, and it depends on what is following the colon

Another style guide reads:

Capitalize first word after a colon if the expression after the colon is a complete sentence.

So, you could write:

That's when the teacher asked me this question: "When are you going?"

That would mirror what the Purdue OWL says:

Use a colon after an independent clause when introducing a quotation.

My teacher’s remark on my final essay was very complimentary: “This essay coherently analyzes musical trends of the late 20th century.”

  • The O’Reilly Style Guide states “Lowercase the first letter after a colon: this is how we do it. (Exception: headings.)” The heading exceptions refer to “headline casing” rules which may apply at a sufficiently high head level. – tchrist Oct 5 '13 at 15:17
  • On the other hand, the house style at the computer magazines where I used to work was to initial-cap the first word after a colon if it could function as a complete sentence (as opposed to being, say, the first product in what was essentially a series or list of product names. – Sven Yargs Jan 12 '16 at 2:42
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  1. English does not use a colon in that position. It uses a comma.
  2. The spoken words should be within quotation marks.
  3. The quotation itself should be punctuated and written independently of the containing sentence.

Thus:

She said, "When are you going?"

Addendum (following OP's comment)

Even for some "avant-garde writing", I would follow my point 3 above: if the quotation is a complete sentence, then punctuate and capitalise it as such. I would, however, go further, ans suggest that,; but even if the quotation were not a single sentence because the speaker only spoke a partial sentence, or even only a single word, I would still capitalise and punctuate it as if it were a full sentence, thus indicating that that it is the full text of what was said.

However, if you are asking about using a colon in normal writing (and not in the context of a stylised form of quoting speech), then, no, you capitalise as you would in any continuation of a sentence, namely, only for a proper noun. For example, see:

  • the first paragraph of this Addendum.
  • the first indented paragraph of the answer from @J.R.
  • Verve, you may be thinking of scripts. In some scripts, dialog is written like this: DARTH VADER: He will come to me? THE EMPORER: I have foreseen it. His compassion for you will be his undoing. He will come to you and then you will bring him before me. DARTH VADER: As you wish. Arrgh, I forgot I can't show it properly in comments. It would be lined up differently, but the character name followed by a colon and then dialog is used. But is you're writing a screenplay, don't do that. Look up the format. Character name in the middle of the page in all caps, no colon, dialog below. – sarah Jul 8 '13 at 2:03
  • Yes, I was thinking of something different. I know English uses a comma after "said". I just use a colon for some avant-garde writing. :-) What I was curious about was the capitalization of "when" if a colon is used in whatever context. – verve Jul 8 '13 at 9:09
  • As regards your first sentence, your question did say "in a story". It helps if you provide as much info as appropriate so we understand your question fully. As regards your second sentence, it's still unclear whether you're still meaning when preceding a quotation in "avant-garde" style, or in any context in mid-sentence. See my amended answer. (I've also amended your question to include the additional info.) – TrevorD Jul 8 '13 at 10:25
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    I could easily find authorities that allow a colon (or neither colon nor comma) between a quote verb and the quote. (Though I'd often opt for the comma.) – Edwin Ashworth Jul 8 '13 at 19:49
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Legal transcription uses a colon after the question posed by the speaking attorney rather than a comma in most instances, and as long as what follows is a complete sentence, it is capitalized. This would be considered formal transcription. Example: Q. Here's what I'm trying to find out: Did you see the car approach before it hit you? Q. Let me ask you this: Did the truck hit the median first?

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