I've seen that each language has its own rules when using the colon. In Spanish, it's not needed to capitalize:

Los elementos incluyen: secado, lavado, etc.

In French is the same, and even they put the colon with an extra space:

Ces éléments comprennent : séchage, lavage, etc.

But in English I'm still not sure if one needs to capitalize or not as I've seen both ways and it's not clear to me when we use one and when the other.


Yes, it is necessary, if what follows the colon is a complete sentence. Punctuation that ends a previous sentence does not change the sentence capitalization rule.

Here is an example of a sentence that needs to start with a capital letter: This is a complete sentence that contains a subject and a verb.

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    No. What follows after the colon may or may not be a complete sentence, and as such doesn't require capitalization. What precedes the colon has to be able to stand as a complete sentence on its own. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colon_(punctuation). All you did was write two sentences and incorrectly use a colon instead of a period. – Keith Morrison Apr 10 '19 at 16:12
  • The answer states "..it is necessary, if..." You apparently were reading too quickly to see the word "if." You also missed that the first sentence is, in fact, an introduction to an example, a sentence type that often ends with a colon. – user8356 Apr 10 '19 at 17:21
  • In British usage (and the Chicago Manual of Style) it is not required to capitalize even if the following clause is also a complete sentence unless the word is a proper noun. So in your example, "this" would not need to be capitalized. – Keith Morrison Apr 10 '19 at 17:59
  • Is your rule from a non-English language? If so, please make that clear. What you've stated is not true in English. – Cyn says make Monica whole Apr 10 '19 at 18:30

No, is not needed capitalize a word after a colon. Same as spanish.

I want the following: butter, sugar, and flour.

Read here the rules: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/colons.asp

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  • But I've seen scientific articles where they start with a new sentence after a colon, and thus they capitalize. Is this wrong? – Alejandro Marcos Aragon Jan 31 '15 at 17:20
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    @AlejandroMarcosAragon: Two remarks: firstly, in your question you haven't mentioned sentences, but just lists; second, in scientific articles, specific style rules required by the publishers might apply. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 31 '15 at 18:21
  • @MassimoOrtolano, so if you have sentences is it allowed to capitalize? – Alejandro Marcos Aragon Jan 31 '15 at 18:22
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    @AlejandroMarcosAragon: Read the link provided by Amanda, rule 4. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 31 '15 at 18:26
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    If a complete sentence follows a colon, as in the previous example, it is up to the writer to decide whether to capitalize the first word. This would explain why I've seen both. – Alejandro Marcos Aragon Jan 31 '15 at 18:27

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