Colon Rules

Define Colon
<noun>
  • A punctuation mark represented by: :
  • Used to start a list
  • Used to show what's about to follow is an elaboration of the statement before the colon
When to Use
  • At the end of a sentence, before starting a list
    • example 1:  I bought 3 things at the store: an apple, an orange and a banana.
    • example 2:  I bought three items:
      • an apple
      • an orange
      • a banana
  • Between two sentences, where the second sentence provides additional details about the first
    • example:  He was looked everywhere for his car: a blue Lexus with white pin-strips down the middle.
  • When addressing someone in a formal letter
    • example:  To Whom It May Concern:
  • To separate a sentence from a quote
    • example:  My favorite quote from Shakespeare is: "To be or not to be."
Rule 1
  • The sentence before the colon should be a complete sentence.
    • exampleThis is an outrage: These working conditions are not acceptable.
Rule 2
  • Unless you are using bullets, make sure to include an "and" before the last item in a list
    • example 1:  We saw many animals: cows, goats, and sheep.
    • example 2:  We saw the following animals:
      • cows
      • goats
      • sheep
Rule 3
  • A colon followed by a complete sentence should have the first letter after the colon be capitalized
    • example:  It's as if the field had always been empty: All traces of the big oak tree were gone.
Rule 4
  • A colon used after a quote should be placed outside the quotation marks
    • example:  Home many times have you seen "The Little Mermaid": one, twice, three times?
Rule 5
  • Always place colon between the hour and minutes when talking about time.
    • example:  It is 10:05 A.M.

Cite This Source

Fun Fact
Brunch = Breakfast + Lunch
This is a portmanteau.

Examples

  • I like many animals: cats, dogs, and horses.
  • It's 6:00 A.M.
  • My favorite animals are:
    • cats
    • dogs
    • horses
  • The refrigerator was empty: All traces of milk were gone.
  • Dear Mr. Smith:
  • Dear Mr. John Smith:
  • It is 11:00 A.M.
Bibliography Citations
MLA   |    APA   |   Chicago Manual Style