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Write the Right Word: Colons and Capitalization

Writers frequently use colons in a sentence to introduce lists, tabulations or text.

Just remember to capitalize the first word after the colon if it’s a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence. For example: “Note: Make sure you turn off the lights when you leave the room.” Or this: “The winners of the 4-H poster contest were three local youth: Joe Smith, John Anderson and Judy Larson, all of Minot.”

Colons also can be effective in emphasizing a word or phrase. For example: “The farmer always has grown two crops: soybeans and sugar beets.” Note that soybeans is not capitalized because it is not a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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