Sunday, March 4, 2007

Colons and Caps

Is there a rule for capitalizing the first word after a colon? I see this around sometimes, for example in our text book on p. 161. At my internship last summer, if I used a colon, my boss would always edit the sentence to capitalize the first word after the colon. Is this correct? When is this appropriate?


Pat said...

It's best to be selective about capitalizing the first word after a colon. I'll check Chicago Manual's guidelines tomorrow and post a summary of what I find.

Pat said...

The pertinent section in the fifteen edition is 6.64:

Lowercase or capital letter after a colon? When a colon is used within a sentence, as in the first three examples in 6.63, the first word following the colon is lowercased unless it is a proper name. When a colon introduces two or more sentences (as in the fourth example in 6.63 or the second example in 6.65), or when it introduces a speech in dialogue or an extract (as in the examples in 6.66), the first word following it is capitalized.

The examples listed in section 6.63 are as follows:

The study involves three food types: cereals, fruits and vegetables, and fats.

They even relied on a chronological analogy: just as the Year II had overshadowed 1789, so the October Revolution had eclipsed that of February.

Many of the police officers held additional jobs: thirteen of them for example, moonlighted as security guards.

Henrietta was faced with a hideous choice: Should she reveal what was in the letter and ruin her reputation? Or should she remain silent and compromise the safety of her family?

The example listed in section 6.65 is as follows:

I argue the following propositions: First,… Second,… Third,…

Pat said...

Take a look at the stylistic variations that appear on pp. 168–169 of the textbook; they are quite interesting.