I'm writing a documentation for an eGovernment project, so the document I'm writing is a scientific document. It contains some big ideas, each having some subideas, with each subidea having a number of paragraphs.

The question is that at the title of each subidea (wich contains only paragraphs, no free text), should I put colons?

The paragraphs contain explanations sometimes, so should I put colons for the paragraphs' titles?

This is an example:

Motivating People

Reputation System

Needs for reputation system

It's needed due to several reasons (so mentioning the reasons).


The system works as follows: (so mentioning how it works).

Trust System


  • Can you provide a little more context? Is Heading-2 in relation to Microsoft Word?
    – JLG
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 18:18
  • I've edited the title, is it better now? Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 18:23
  • 1
    A leetle more context. What kind of document is this? Is there any text after the titles? Sometimes? After 2 but not 1? Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 18:25
  • 1
    Could you give a real example, with some context? Does Title 2 immediately follow Title 1? (In that case sometimes title 1 gets a colon, but not 2.) Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 18:35
  • Is it clear now? sorry for taking your time :( Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


First off, if you're writing for the government they might have a format they expect, so if so and it says something on this point, it wins.

Otherwise, I would not use colons in any of your titles or paragraphs. The colon's job is to introduce what follows (e.g. in a list), but a title/subtitle/subsubtitle/etc structure already provides that implicitly.

The one case where I would use a colon in a title is in a document title that has a subtitle, e.g. "A History of the McGuffin: A Literature Survey". But I would prefer to represent all of that as the title, not title + subtitle, so I would only do that if a style guide forced me to separate the elements.


I would say that you do not need colons with your subheadings (the headings above your sub-ideas).

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