The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition (2024)

Q. When a question introduces a list, should you use a question mark or a colon? Or both?

A. First, don’t use a question mark immediately followed by a colon, or vice versa (neither :? nor ?:); instead, use the stronger mark. Assuming a direct question, the question mark is usually stronger.

Which fruit would you be most likely to recognize by texture alone?

banana
apple
blueberry
cherry
pineapple

A signal like “the following” can be helpful in such cases: “Which of the following fruits ...”

If you incorporate the list into a sentence, the question mark can follow the last item.

Which fruit would you be most likely to recognize by texture alone: bananas, apples, blueberries, cherries, or pineapples?

Especially for shorter sentences, a comma can be used instead of a colon to introduce the list.

Which fruit do you like best, bananas or pineapples?

but

Do you prefer apples or bananas or blueberries? [See CMOS 6.67.]

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 5265

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Birthday: 2001-07-17

Address: Suite 794 53887 Geri Spring, West Cristentown, KY 54855

Phone: +5934435460663

Job: Central Hospitality Director

Hobby: Yoga, Electronics, Rafting, Lockpicking, Inline skating, Puzzles, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Clemencia Bogisich Ret, I am a super, outstanding, graceful, friendly, vast, comfortable, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.