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Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Fri Jan 23 18:39:24 EST 2004

On Fri, 23 Jan 2004 14:20:41 -0000, Charles Butler wrote:

>All this punctuation talk reminds me of a question I asked on another list
>some time ago. Where does the US practice of following a colon with a
>capital letter come from? Here in the UK it would be considered just plain
>wrong, but it seems to be fairly widespread in the States, at least where
>what follows the colon is an independent clause rather than a list. Is this
>an American invention? Or is it something that used to be done here too, but
>which died out, like faucet and fall?

In all my experience, putting a capital letter after a colon isn't even
addressed in US writing or grammar classes.  You just don't.  It would be
like putting a random capital letter in the middle of a sentence.  And yet
it happens--so my feeling is that it's a stylistic quirk for certain
writers, or more likely a quirk of certain publishing houses and their
internal style guides.  It *is* an interesting visual effect, but it seems
to add no extra clarity to writing.

Melissa Proffitt

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