When To Use a Colon and Semicolon In Corporate Writing?

Punctuation marks make the English language easy to read and understand. You can find them ending a remark, amplifying emotions or simply indicating the end of a sentence. Punctuation marks range from commas, semicolons, periods, a hyphen, and also exclamation marks used for different purposes within a sentence. In this article, we discover the difference between using a colon and a semicolon in corporate writing. We explore their use cases and analyses the proper way and context of use in a formal structure.

When To Use a Colon and Semicolon In Corporate Writing?

When To Use a Colon and Semicolon in Corporate Writing?

 The colon and the semicolon are used within sentences; they perform different roles. The semicolon indicates clarity on a list. It also adds more meaning and shows the similarity between two linked sentences. While the colon shows the preceding sentence is for emphasis or clarification of the previously expressed idea.

Semicolons and How They are Used

Semicolons are used for added clarity and to emphasize the actual meaning of the sentence previously expressed. They offset independent clauses and sentences. Colons also function as an emphasis on words, passages and lists.

Uses of Semicolon

Although with the permission of artistic expressions and other use cases of punctuation, semicolons can vary in utilization. However, there are two important uses for semicolons. They are;

  • Combining related sentences or phrases 
  • Differentiating between items within a series 

1. Combining multiple phrases or sentences:

In various instances, the semicolon can perform the role of a period. It can be used to combine two sentences which on their own, can exist as independent sentences. The semicolon can act as an interphase between these sentences and can combine them into one coherent sentence. An example of this operation is seen below.

  • I have a new car coming into town; It has all the functions and capabilities of the previous car I sold to my best friend.
  • I love purple gowns; purple is my boyfriend’s favourite colour. 

2. Separating items within a series:

This is another use of the semicolon. They help to make clearer the distinctions that exist between items on a list already including a comma. What this means is that, for items that require separation, the semicolon can help in clarifying the difference that exists between these items.

Here are examples shown below;

  • I own three precious stones, gold, gotten from Mecca; silver, which I found refined in South Africa; and Jasper; my favourite from central Asia. 
  • Amy’s three brothers came visiting, Arnold, the eldest; Jake, my favourite of the three; and Kelvin, who owns the bakery down the street. 

Use of Semicolon and Colon in Corporate Writing

When it comes to business writing and explaining technical concepts in the corporate space, the colon and the semicolon have their definite uses. One major common use of both the semicolon and the colon is that both punctuation marks can be used in lists.

Colons in Business Writing

The colon, however, is used in corporate writings to remove unnecessary words. Colons replace words like, “for instance,” 

“that is,” “In other words,” and even “namely.” These words within the corporate setting are seen as fillers and can take cause ambiguity when not properly expressed. Colons also introduce items before they are listed. Because business articles and other corporate writings are brief, formal and straight to the point, the colon helps to remove the things or words deemed insignificant.

Another thing to note with the using colons is, words are usually capitalized after the use of a colon. For most writers, regardless of the parts of speech, the words fall into, they are capitalized after a colon; just as you would do after using a period.

However, this rule is location specific. American writers are the major proponents for the capitalization of words after using a colon. The Brits are more laid back with this law and oftentimes leave the words after a colon, uncapitalized — except it is a proper noun.

Finally, in corporate writings, the colon precedes a quote. They identify another’s quote and are used to point readers to the awareness that a quote is being written. One example of this is,

  • The accountant of the new bank said: “Money is the driver of the new economies.”

Semicolons in Business Writings  

Asides from the discussed use of semicolons above, in business writing these punctuation marks, have limited use in writing. One common mistake found in corporate writings is using them together with conjunctions. Using the semicolon together with connecting words like, “but,” “and,” or “or,” is termed bad writing. Naturally, they serve as replacements. Here is an example below;

  • The girl and the boy are friends, but they are also coursemates in school. 

The above example is wrong when used in corporate writing as, the presence of the “but,” conflicts with the semicolon since they both perform a similar role. The correct expression for the above example is written below.

  • The girl and the boy are friends; they are also coursemates in school.

It is important to pay attention to the different uses of both the colon and the semicolon especially in corporate writings to prevent written works from being flagged wrong.


We all love well-written articles or clearly expressed writeups. Usually, writeups that are properly done, happen because all elements of writing, especially components such as punctuation marks are used correctly. Learning to properly use the semicolon and colon in corporate writing will greatly improve written articles and make them communicate the point being expressed. Good writing will never go out of style, therefore having a good command of punctuation expressions, will stand you out among other writers.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. List some common mistakes made using the semicolon and the colon


  • One common mistake in writing is putting a space after the colon or semicolon. Putting a space with words after the semicolon is unnecessary.
  • Using the semicolon to join two independent sentences not closely related. 

2. What are other punctuation marks other than the semicolon and the colon with similar use and purposes in sentences?


  • The hyphen 
  • Dash 
  • Period 
  • Commas.
When To Use a Colon and Semicolon In Corporate Writing?

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