Other than using it to for­mat time cor­rect­ly (3:30 p.m.), the main use for a colon is to intro­duce a list. The AP Style rule of thumb is to only cap­i­tal­ize the word that begins the list or series if it’s a prop­er noun. 

  • Hudl has sev­er­al video review tools: playlists, text effects and drawings.”
  • We have three for­wards: Mike, Dan and Sam.”

But with rules come exceptions:

  • If the list or series extends over mul­ti­ple sen­tences, you should cap­i­tal­ize the first word after the colon.
  • Capitalize the first word after the colon if you’re intro­duc­ing a com­plete sen­tence that clar­i­fies or expands on the orig­i­nal sentence.

For more on lists, see our best prac­tices.

Last Updated: 20 May 2020 at 10:48am CDT