Quick Start Guide: Colons and Semicolons


Welcome to the Learning Commons Quick Start Guide on Colons and Semicolons!

Difficulty with navigating the correct use of colons and semicolons is a common experience in Academic Writing. Many people struggle to identify when and when not to use colons and semicolons. If you are struggling, know that you are in good company! This guide will explain:

  • When and how to use a colon
  • When and how to use a semicolon
Course Information

Course Level: Beginner

Time to Complete: <15 mins

Perfect for: Students in WRTG100/101, ENGL103/104, or anyone who needs a refresher.

Guide Creator: Lael Louw

Colons and Semicolons 101

These videos serve as a primer on when to use a colon and when to use a semicolon:

  • Colons introduce information that serves to elaborate
  • Semicolons relate two independent clauses
  • Colons introduce a list
  • Semicolons separate complex items within a list

In this mini-course we explore this in more detail:

  1. Colons and introductions, explanations, and elaboration
  2. Semicolons and conjunctions
  3. Semicolons and series and lists
  4. Wrap-Up

Additional Resources

Below are some great links to follow if you want to read more on commas:

Links to handouts:

If you would like to talk any of this through then we look forward to talking to you. Book an appointment!