skip to main content

This page has been archived and is no longer being updated regularly.

When should you use a semicolon?

This page reflects guidance from the sixth edition of the Publication Manual.

Go to 7th edition guidelines


Use a semicolon

to separate two independent clauses that are not joined by a conjunction

  • Example:
    The participants in the first study were paid; those in the second were unpaid.

to separate elements in a series that already contain commas


  • The color order was red, yellow, blue; blue, yellow, red; or yellow, red, blue.
  • (Davis & Hueter, 2006; Pettigrew, 2003)
  • age, M = 34.5 years, 95% CI [29.4, 39.6]; years of education, M = 10.4 [8.7, 12.1]; and weekly income, M = 612 [522, 702].

(adapted from the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, © 2010)

Last updated: August 2020Date created: May 2009
The content I just read: