For this section of the course, I have written a blog post centered around the Republican sentiment: the belief that the British monarchy should be abolished and replaced with a democratically elected head of state.

In the sentence above, should I replace the colon with an emdash?

  • You could simply eliminate the colon and the words the belief, which would be an improvement over either form of punctuation.
    – TimR
    Feb 2, 2018 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


According to this excellent punctuation guide:

The em dash can be used in place of a colon when you want to emphasize the conclusion of your sentence. The dash is less formal than the colon.

So, do you want to emphasize the conclusion of your sentence? The part after the colon is quite long, and it is less effective to emphasize something long than with something shorter, like this:

After months of deliberation, the jurors reached a unanimous verdict—guilty.

Either would work fine: in my opinion, there is no need to use an em-dash, for three reasons:

  • the phrase just before it ("the Republican sentiment") is obviously a teaser, so we know that what follows is going to be the important part. No emphasis is required.
  • the part after the colon is too long to emphasize effectively.
  • this is formal writing, and the em-dash is less formal.
  • If somebody provides an answer that you like (whether to your question or somebody else's), please upvote the answer rather than adding a thank you comment. For your own questions, after a couple of days you can review all of the answers and then decide whether you want to accept one of them.
    – JavaLatte
    Feb 2, 2018 at 9:41

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