How To Use Colons

A lot of new writers seems to get more confused over when to use a colon than semicolons, yet the rules are simpler. Simply put, a colon is used to introduce something, including a list.

CorrectYou know what I love: good grammar.

CorrectCan you go to the shop and buy me the following: bread, milk, and butter.

As with semicolons, you should not capitalise the first word unless it’s a proper noun. You should also never use a colon if it follows a verb or preposition.

WrongThere are some great writers, including: Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Charles Dickens, etc.

CorrectThere are some great writers, including Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Charles Dickens, etc.

A frequent use of colons is introducing a bullet list. There are some simple punctuation rules around bullet point lists.

Generally, capitalisation and periods are optional unless the list is of complete sentences. The one golden rule is to be consistent using them.

Common punctuation includes:

  • periods
  • commas
  • colons
  • semicolons

Common punctuation rules include:

  • Sentences start with a capital letter.
  • Sentences end with a period.
  • Commas are used to seperate clauses.



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