Here is the context:

There is a set of parameters defined by them, x: the number of boys, y: the number of girls, and z: the overall population size.

I feel the punctuation usage is kind of a mess here, but I can't figure out how it could be corrected.


When I searched for the usage of colons on Internet, there are many discussions related to how colons are used to introduce a list or separate two clauses. In the sentence above neither applies. So I am wondering, is that a misuse?

  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because the question shows no evidence of research, even on this site, where there are many posts dealing with use of colons and semicolons in lists.
    – Anton
    Jan 23, 2021 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


The punctuation looks awkward but it is perfectly understandable. You could just leave out the colons.

Alternatively you could change your sentence to

There is a set of parameters defined by them; x is the number of boys, y is the number of girls, and z is the overall population size.

A mathematical article might say

Let x be the number of boys, let y be the number of girls, and let z be the overall population size.

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