I have the following sentence:

The program identifies particular “targets” and “identifiers:” the “targets” are people who are suspected of committing a crime.

Does the colon go inside the quotes or outside of them?

  • You either have to purchase it or find it at a library. Why ask that here??
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018 at 19:58
  • 1
    @Lambie because I have seen many other useful punctuation questions here. I did not know that style manuals could be proprietary. I thought the point was that everyone should be able to know them and use them.
    – Pro Q
    Mar 29, 2018 at 20:02
  • If it were entirely free, it would be online. The Chicago Manual of Style is a book, not a style guide (as you find in companies). Any named reference book has a copyright.
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018 at 23:17
  • If you are quoting single words in a text, the quotation marks (aka inverted commas) must go around the word. You would never ever but them after a colon. This isn't dialogue or quoting a person. And I reckon that rule is the same in most places where English is the official language.
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


While my edition (14th) of CMOS is getting long in the tooth, I don’t believe the guidance has changed:

5.104 The colon should be placed outside quotation marks or parentheses. When matter ending with a colon is quoted, that colon is dropped:

Kego had three objections to “Filmore’s Summer”: it was contrived; the characters were flat; the dialogue was unrealistic.

@Sven Yargs notes in a comment that the guidance remains in place in the 16th (2010) edition:

6.10 Other punctuation in relation to closing quotation marks Colons and semicolons—unlike periods and commas—follow closing quotation marks; ..."

  • The advice you cite from the 14th edition remains in force in the 16th edition (2010): "6.10 Other punctuation in relation to closing quotation marks Colons and semicolons—unlike periods and commas—follow closing quotation marks; ..."
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 29, 2018 at 22:55
  • This is not the kind of thing they would change....
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018 at 23:15
  • In general, Chicago upholds the doctrine of stare decisis at least as vigorously as the U.S. Supreme Court does, but occasionally it reverses itself—even (in one recent instance) on a matter of punctuation style.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 30, 2018 at 1:53

Although this does not answer your question directly, reading your sentence, I would think that the quotation marks could be eliminated. There is no need for scare quotes in that sentence, since there is nothing unusual or inaccurate about your usage.


  • 1
    The example does not use scare quotes; rather, this is a straightforward example of using quotes to define a term, much like a Stack Exchange "answer" is different from just any Stack Exchange answer.
    – choster
    Mar 29, 2018 at 22:41

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