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Colons and Semicolons

One small matter that plagues non-native English writers is the use of colons and semicolons. I frequently find these two articles of punctuation misused in the manuscripts I edit.

A colon is used to introduce a series or list of things, to set two things in apposition (as in a ratio), to present a concluding explanation, an expansion, or clarification, or to introduce a long, formal quotation. Such quotations are rare in technical writing. A dash or hyphen can be used for the same purpose as a colon, but it is more informal and should generally be avoided in technical writing.



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