I would like to check the correctness of two constructions containing enumerations. The first one is as follows.

Let us note the following two aspects: First, here comes the first aspect. Second, here comes the second aspect.

Is it acceptable to begin with a capital letter after a colon? Also, is it acceptable to keep one item together with the corresponding introduction whereas the other one comes as a separate sentence?

The second construction is as follows.

Let us note the following two aspects:

First, here comes a separate paragraph with a long explanation of the first aspect.

Second, here comes a separate paragraph with a long explanation of the second aspect.

Is it acceptable to end a sentence with a colon followed by two paragraphs?

The correctness of the structure of my question is also a question.

Thank you!

  • I'm fairly certain that by "column sign" you mean "colon"; if not, please feel free to revert the edit. – choster Aug 27 '13 at 15:39
  • Google this phrase using the quotes: "following two areas". There seems to be almost no standardization about how people structure this. Example: (i) some text (ii) some text. Example: ... following two areas. Control systems. Power Systems. And then there's a complete web page divided down the middle: psychology.sas.upenn.edu/graduate/resareas – dcaswell Aug 27 '13 at 15:41

In §6.61, "Lowercase or capital letter after a colon," the Chicago Manual of Style says:

When a colon is used within a sentence, the first word following the colon is lowercased unless it is a proper name. When a colon introduces two or more sentences, when it introduces a speech in dialogue or an extract, or when it introduces a direct question, the first word following it is capitalized.

Your first construction is certainly correct per this guideline; and your second construction is simply an elaboration of the first, and one I've seen commonly used. As a general guideline to the use of the colon, CMoS says:

A colon introduces an element or a series of elements illustrating or amplifying what has preceded the colon; use a colon sparingly, however, and only to emphasize that the second clause illustrates or amplifies the first. (The colon should generally convey the sense of “as follows.”) The colon may sometimes be used instead of a period to introduce a series of related sentences.

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  • Heh, I was just embarking on penning an answer that quoted the exact same paragraph. I will instead just add that capitalisation after colons, and colon use in general, is subject to the style guide that you adhere to. So the answer to this question depends on what you are writing (for). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 27 '13 at 16:30
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Just out of curiosity, have you used a style guide that differs significantly from CMoS on this topic? (I know that some users on this site have ideological issues with CMoS...) – Gnawme Aug 27 '13 at 16:44
  • I don’t think so, no—but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a style guide or two out there who advocated always capitalising after a colon, or never using a colon to ‘control’ more than one following sentence. Always best to check the style guide in matters such as this. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 27 '13 at 17:07
  • @Janus Bahs Jacquet: This link: bristol.ac.uk/arts/exercises/grammar/grammar_tutorial/… indicates that you are correct re capitalisation preferences. One would assume that the list a colon may be used to introduce may be a list of connected sentences. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 27 '13 at 22:20

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