LEOLEO: Literacy Education Online

Semicolon and Colon


Uses of the Semicolon

  1. To join independent clauses in compound sentences that do not have coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but, nor, for, so, yet) and commas as connectors. Words like "however," "moreover," "thus," and "therefore," are often used as connectors in these sentences.

  2. To separate long or complicated items in a series which already includes commas.

  3. To separate two long or complex independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction if confusion would result from using a comma.


Uses of the Colon

  1. After an independent clause that precedes a list.

  2. To separate an explanation, rule, or example from a preceding independent clause.

  3. After the salutation of a business letter.

  4. In the heading of a business memo.

  5. Between the hour and the minutes.

  6. Between the chapter and the verse in the Bible, in citations for some literary works, and between the volume and the number of some publications.

  7. As part of a title.

  8. In a bibliography between the place of publication and the name of the publisher.


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LEO: Literacy Education Online
This handout was originally written for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN. Kelly A. Larson and Sharon Cogdill completed the html markup. The handout may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Last update: 8 July 1998

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/punct/col-semi.html