The Colon or the Dash

There is a place where the rule for the colon and the rule for the dash overlap, in other words, a place where each one is correct.

…There are several things to consider: money outlay, time spent, manpower involved.
…There are several things to consider — money outlay, time spent, manpower involved.

In this instance, it is really best to opt for the colon since the dash is so prevalent for interruptions. It is a chance to use the colon correctly and avoid having one more dash in the transcript.

Happy punctuating!


“i.e.” and Its Friends

These eight expressions are often used when something is being renamed or reiterated:

i.e., that is, e.g., for example, to wit, namely, for instance, in other words

The punctuation depends upon where they are in the sentence and/or what follows them. There are six rules; so we will do a few at a time.


If followed by a fragment, use a pair of commas.

…I bought a new car, that is, a VW Beetle.
…This is a very serious crime, to wit, murder.

If followed by a complete sentence, use a semicolon and a comma.

…She has to have surgery; i.e., she has to have a hysterectomy.
…He was late that day; in other words, he didn’t make it on time.

If followed by a list, use a colon and a comma.

…Send everything to me: for example, bills, receipts, canceled checks.
…I visited several Oregon towns: namely, Eugene, Portland, Salem, Bend.

Happy punctuating!


Capitalization after a Dash and a Colon

Capitalize the first word after a colon only when it begins a complete sentence.

…This is what I want to know: What day did he arrive?
…This is what I want to know: the day he arrived.

…He provided the following data: The date was the 4th at a little after 5:00.
…He provided the following data: the 4th of May at a little after 5:00.

Capitalize the first word after a dash only when the word always has to be capped. (Do not cap for a complete sentence.)

…I was going to see him — it was Friday, June 3 — to ask that question.
…I was going to see him — I think it was Friday, June 3 — to ask that question.

…Were you intending to — was it your intention to complete this?
…Were you intending to — I want to know about your intention to complete this.

Happy punctuating!