What is a colon?
A colon is a punctuation mark used to separate significant parts of a sentence, particularly when the first part offers a sense of anticipation for the second. This form of punctuation is also used in other conventional applications as noted below.
How should colons be used?
- Use a colon to separate a complete sentence from a list (of three items or more) that follows.
- The students brought items from the supply list to class: paper, pens, and highlighters.
- Use a colon to separate a complete sentence from a statement that explains or clarifies the first.
- The college bookstore sells more than just textbooks: clothing and office supplies are also available for purchase there.
- Use a colon to separate a complete sentence from a noun or noun phrase that further identifies or explains the subject.
- The librarian’s primary interests drew him to the college library: love for books and a quest for knowledge.
- Use a colon after a complete sentence that introduces a direct quotation.
- The researcher reported on one of the consequences of homelessness: “Those who live on the street were found to be vulnerable to a variety of communicable diseases.”
For additional information on colons, see also: