What is a Colon?
Although rarely used compared to commas and semicolons, a colon (:) is convenient for listing items, words, or phrases. A colon is written like a stack of two periods and can be read as “note what follows.”
How to Use a Colon:
Here’s a quick guide on how to use a colon:
1. Use a colon before a series of items, especially after phrases like as follows or the following.
- Joey’s favorite food is as follows: sandwich, pizza, and baked macaroni and cheese.
- This is my schedule on Sunday: morning jog around the village, online meeting at lunchtime, and virtual church fellowship in the evening.
NOTE: Do not capitalize the words following the colon, unless it’s a proper noun or another independent clause or sentence.
- My favorite colors are as follows: pink, teal, and yellow.
- Isabel was faced with a challenge: Ask for financial help from the man who betrayed her.
2. Use a colon after an independent clause for emphasis or clarification.
- His mother loves decorating the house: She studied interior design in college.
NOTE: Use a colon to introduce a quotation after an independent clause.
- He was reminded of his favorite Bible verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [The colon that introduced a quote is interchangeable with a comma. It’s up to you which to use.]
- She remembers what his Philosophy professor always says: Choice is an illusion. [Here, a comma in place of the colon is not an option.]
Related Reading: Quotation Marks – Separating Words & Phrases
3. Use a colon to separate items when writing the time and after the salutation of a formal letter.
- I expect him to arrive before 4:30 P.M.
- Dear Ms. Marcelo:
Insert the necessary colon or colons in each sentence:
- I cannot attend the 8 30 A.M. and 2 30 P.M. workshop.
- Here are my favorite sitcoms Friends, The Big Bag Theory, and Brooklyn 99.
- When asked about love, he usually quotes Paulo Coelho “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
- She has read a lot of books, including the following Flowers for Algernon, Angels and Demons, and The Lovely Bones.
- Here’s what you can drink other than water tea, coffee, fruit shake, and beer.
- I cannot attend the 8:30 A.M. and 2:30 P.M. workshop.
- Here are my favorite sitcoms: Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and Brooklyn 99.
- When asked about love, he usually quotes Paulo Coelho: “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
- She has read a lot of books, including the following: Flowers for Algernon, Angels and Demons, and The Lovely Bones.
- Here’s what you can drink other than water: tea, coffee, fruit shake, and beer.
Thank you for reading. We hope it’s effective! Always feel free to revisit this page if you ever have any questions about how to use a colon.