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SPAG: Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: Colons and Semicolons

Tips to improve and correct common errors in academic and formal writing.


More about semicolons

Semicolons do three things.

  • They join two closely related independent clauses.
  • They separate sentences joined by conjunctive adverbs (words like however, nevertheless).
  • They act as "super commas" to separate items in lists that include other punctuation.

To learn more, see:


More about colons

Colons introduce things: examples, subsets, and lists.

If you do not have a complete sentence, don't use the colon.

Lists can be bulleted or a part of a sentence.

Bulleted lists are sometimes introduced by a colon even when the sentence is not complete.


WRONG: He liked to: run, swim, and bike.

RIGHT: He liked to fun, swim, and bike.

John 1:14

The book was called Choices: Decision-making for the Indecisive.

To succeed in college do these things:

  • Prepare
  • Participate
  • Ponder

To learn more, see: