What Is the Difference between a Semicolon and a Colon?

What Is the Difference between a Semicolon and a Colon?
Well, some might argue that there is very little difference indeed, and the careless way in which semicolons and colons are used by many authors could be used as evidence to confirm this position. Certainly, there is very little to distinguish a semicolon from a colon in a physical sense – the first looks like a point directly above a comma (;), whereas the second places the point above another point (:). However, there are important differences between the semicolon and the colon when it comes to their functions within English sentences. As these differences are subtle at times, it can occasionally be very difficult to decide when to use a semicolon and when to use a colon, especially if the goal is to produce sophisticated prose of a scholarly standard, so these notes on usage may prove helpful.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Published
Within normal English sentences, the semicolon has three basic functions:
• To provide punctuation between two independent clauses that are not joined by a conjunction and could, were they separated by a full stop instead, form two complete sentences. For example, ‘The first trial took place this morning; the second is planned for this afternoon.’ The two clauses are usually of equal importance or emphasis, with the semicolon implying a closer relationship between the clauses than a full stop would between two sentences. This structure can contribute to a concise style by requiring less repetition of words: were my example above written as two sentences, for instance, ‘the second’ would probably become ‘The second trial.’
• To join two independent clauses into one sentence when the second clause begins with an adverb or some other transitional phrase. For example, ‘The first trial took place in the morning; however, the second is planned for the afternoon.’ A comma usually follows the adverb or transitional phrase, as it does here, but the common practice of using a comma where the semicolon is placed in this example produces the error called a comma splice and should be avoided.
• To punctuate between the items of a series when those items already contain commas or are particularly long and complex. For example, ‘Research will be conducted in the British Library, London; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and the University Library, Cambridge.’ In such cases, semicolons clarify both the divisions and the relationships between the items in ways commas cannot.

The colon has only two basic functions in English sentences, both of them true to the idea that a colon points forward:
• To join two independent clauses in a manner similar to that of a semicolon. When a colon is used, however, the emphasis tends to lie on the second clause, so a colon is the appropriate choice when the second clause is an explanation, elaboration, illustration, description or example of what has been introduced in the first clause. For example, ‘The first trial took place in the morning: everything went smoothly and the results were excellent.’
• To provide punctuation between an independent clause and the list, series, quotation, example or similarly explanatory or demonstrative information that follows. For example, ‘The first trial involved four of the ten groups: Indoor 2, Indoor 5, Outdoor 3 and Outdoor 4.’ As this example shows, the text following a colon need not contain a verb or be able to stand on its own as a sentence or independent clause, so the colon is particularly handy for introducing all kinds of research data.

Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At proofreading services we pride ourselves on the exceptionally dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals who provide our English editing and proofreading services. Our editors and proofreaders are highly educated native speakers of English who have undergone rigorous training in expert editing practices, and their fields of study and specialisation range so widely that we are able to help our clients improve and polish research manuscripts of all kinds for successful publication. Many members of our research paper editing and proofreading team focus on journal editing, manuscript editing, scientific manuscript editing, academic proofreading, academic editing, dissertation proofreading services, professional proofreading, thesis editing services and scientific proofreading, assisting authors with articles that will be submitted to scientific and academic journals by ensuring that the formatting and references in their manuscripts conform to the relevant guidelines with precision and by correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling and typing errors to enable the clear and accurate communication of original research that acquisitions editors expect in publishable papers.

Our scientific editing, medical editing, bioscience editing, life science editing, environmental science editing, pharmaceutical science editing, physical science editing, agricultural science editing, LaTeX paper editing, social science editing, political science editing, engineering paper editing, psychology editing, research paper editing, manuscript editing, humanities editing, journal article editing, biomedical science editing, planetary science editing, plant science editing, material science editing, veterinary science editing, behavioural science editing and neurosurgery editing services for authors of scientific papers and reports are especially popular, but we also excel at book editing and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit books and papers of all kinds across every scholarly discipline. Some of our carefully trained editors and proofreaders work exclusively on PhD thesis editing, master’s dissertation proofreading, bachelor’s dissertation proofreading, thesis editing, dissertation editing, thesis proofreading and dissertation proofreading, applying their education and instructional skills in providing thesis editing and dissertation proofreading services that help advanced students to improve the formatting and language of their theses and dissertations and thereby increase their chances of degree success. Whether you are preparing a conference or class presentation, putting the final touches to a professional report for colleagues or tackling the challenging task of editing any kind of academic or scientific document for publication, a qualified member of our outstanding proofreading and editing team will be delighted to provide proofreading and editing services and boost your confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

We also offer the following services:

Journal Article Editing
Scientific Editing
Dissertation Editing
Manuscript Editing
Research Paper Editing
Book Editing
Report Editing
Grant Application Editing
Conference Paper Editing
Agricultural Science Editing
Bioscience Editing
Chemistry Paper Editing
Environmental Science Editing
LaTeX Paper Editing Services
Life Science Editing
Material Science Editing
Medical Editing Services
Pharmaceutical Science Editing
Physical Sciences Editing
Planetary Science Editing
Plant Science Editing
Sports Science Editing
Veterinary Science Editing
Social Sciences Editing Services
Anthropology Editing
Archaeology Editing
Behavioural Science Editing
Economics Editing
History Paper Editing
Management Studies Editing
Philosophy Editing
Political Science Editing
Psychology Editing
Sociology Editing
Humanities Editing
Engineering Paper Editing
Law Paper Editing
PhD Thesis Editing
Master’s Dissertation Editing
Bachelor’s Dissertation Editing
Thesis Editing Services
Dissertation Editing Services
Thesis Proofreading Services
Dissertation Proofreading Services
Proofreading Prices

topbanner errow