Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

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: