I tried checking style guides and online articles but couldn't find any reference to the following:

When the heading or subheading looks visually different from the body text (either font-size, -weight or -family) is it always better to leave out a colon after the heading? Usually in unformatted text I use a colon to show that what precedes is the heading to the following text.



Body text, body text is always body text.



Body text, body text is always body text.

To confirm, my question is whether there is ever a situation where the colon becomes mandatory after a (sub)heading that's already standing out through formatting.

Context: I am working on a children's book where the last page has the headings moral and keywords.

  • It's entirely up to you.
    – DA01
    Sep 3, 2014 at 5:31

3 Answers 3


I think this is more about writing than design.

If the word in the header begins a thought or sentence and the body text after it completes that sentence, use a colon.

If the header is just a stand-alone headline and the body text a new thought, you don't need a colon.

When arriving at a convention, you should:

  • Check in
  • Pick up the welcome kit
  • Pick up brochures on local attractions


First Steps

When you arrive at a convention, you should check in, get your welcome kit, and check the displays in the lobby for brochures on local attractions.

I don't think Moral and Keywords require colons, so your other headers shouldn't either.


It's an interesting question whose answer goes beyond a yes or no. Actually there is no a convention or a majority position in respect of punctuation in headers. It is common practice in many typographical cultures skip it. I'm not sure what says English typographic tradition, however in this case you must appeal to your judgement and experience, and for a moment put yourself in the shoes of your potential reader.

You've Said that this is a children's book. Well then think if the child who reads the book is able to understand the message headers without any punctuation. Or do he/she need colons to help understand the visual logic of the text?

If moral and keywords need colon, then why not agree to use a typographic distinction in those headers so they are not confusing? Wouldn't it be better then to be consistent in design and add the puctuation to all headers?


The colon isn't essential, in my view, because you wouldn't use it in a conventional sentence where you ran the bullet points together separated by semi-colons. Bullet points are used to replace semi-colons. To use the example above: (you would use a colon here)

When arriving at a convention, you should check in; pick up the welcome kit; and pick up brochures on local attractions.

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