June 9, 2008 12:02 PM Subscribe
The word "re" means "with regard to" according to Webster's Collegiate. As in "I spoke to you last week re the Smith/Yablonsky matter, and you said ...."
Why do many people insert an unnecessary colon after this word, even when it's in the middle of a sentence? As in "I spoke to you last week re: the Smith/Yablonsky ...." Those extra colons really whack readability, especially when there's more than one.
posted by JimN2TAW to Writing & Language (47 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can appreciate inserting a colon in a heading, such as :
Re: Smith/Yablonsky matter, our file ABC123, your file 456XYZ
which is not really supposed to be read as a sentence. In this case, the "Re:" is synonymous with "Matter:" and the colon serves its normal purpose.
Occasionally I have to remove the colons from papers written by my staff and I'd like to have a good explanation to give them of why they should not use colons in that way. Thanks for your input.