What are Colons?

Definition of Colons:

A punctuation mark used after a word introducing a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series and often after the salutation of a business letter.

The sign used between numbers or groups of numbers in expressions of time (2:30 a.m.) and ratios (1:2).

Rules of Colons:

Rule 1. Use the colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items when introductory words

Rule 2. A colon should not precede a list unless it follows a complete sentence; however, the colon is a style choice that some publications allow.

Rule 3. Capitalization and punctuation are optional when using single words or phrases in bulleted form. If each bullet or numbered point is a complete sentence, capitalize the first word and end each sentence with proper ending punctuation. The rule of thumb is to be consistent.

Rule 4.Use a colon instead of a semicolon between two sentences when the second sentence explains or illustrates the first sentence and no coordinating conjunction is being used to connect the sentences.

Rule 5. Use the colon to introduce a direct quotation that is more than three lines in length. In this situation, leave a blank line above and below the quoted material.

Rule 6. Use the colon to follow the salutation of a business letter even when addressing someone by his/her first name. Never use a semicolon after a salutation. A comma is used after the salutation for personal correspondence.

Examples of a Colon