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More Examples of Using Colons and Their Placement in Text

Colons present information that is added to the context. They may also introduce background information and information that relates to the main clause. Knowing when to add a colon in a sentence can make an academic text more cohesive. Colons are usually depicted as two dots that are placed on top of each other. The capitalization of sentences that follow the colon is still debated. Most researchers agree that official documents require formality and therefore should be capitalized. In other cases, the sentence that follows the main clause should not be capitalized.

Some researchers insist that capitalizing the sentence can be regarded as an option in case a more formal type of paper is required. Based on the instructions, given by the academic institution, editors can make a decision regarding the punctuation marks in a sentence. The purpose of using colons in a text is to divide two independent clauses and provide additional meaning to the content. The colon is followed by spaces. It precedes a number of items and is not capitalized. In case the word that follows the colon is a proper noun, capitalization should be present. In other instances, a colon makes an introduction of a specific item complete. Below are some of the additional rules of using colons in a sentence:

A colon is used for an introduction of a series of items or objects. The first object that follows the colon is not capitalized unless it belongs to the group of proper nouns.

Wrong❌ Right✔️
He knew what to do next: Run for cover. He knew what to do next: run for cover.
I would like to buy these pieces: In gold, in blue, and black. I would like to buy these pieces: in gold, in blue, and black.
You need to complete the following tasks: Gather the data, store it, and write a report. You need to complete the following tasks: gather the data, store it, and write a report.
These symbols have the same pattern: They overlap, blend, and interfere with each other. These symbols have the same pattern: they overlap, blend, and interfere with each other.

Colons should never be used before a list of items that includes a preposition, because this makes the use of a colon unnecessary:

You will need items: such as keys, cards, and passports. ✔️ You will need such items: keys, cards, and passports.

Colons can be used with bullet lists and numbers. In this case, capitalization of the words that follow the colon is optional. If each bullet point forms an independent clause, only the first word is capitalized. Also, the ending punctuation is not necessary:

  • ✔️ I would like to hire someone who could:
    Do the chores
    Do the shopping
    Go for a walk with my pets
  • ✔️ Read the rules from the brochure:
    No running.
    No smoking.

A colon can be used between independent clauses. In this case, a colon serves the purpose of expanding the meaning of the first clause. It also rephrases the first sentence in a way that will be more clear to the audience:

  • ✔️ He achieved what he desired: he finally received the letters.
  • ✔️ They knew they were going to get it: they were waiting for this for too long.

When should we use or avoid colon?

If the sentence that follows the colon is connected to the information that comes before it, there is no need to use capitalization. Unless it is an official statement or a document, capitalization is not necessary:

Remember what he said: Tonight, you have to come home before dusk. ✔️ Remember what he said: tonight, you have to come home before dusk.
This is the wisdom of the ages: An early riser gets the privileges of life. ✔️ This is the wisdom of the ages: an early riser gets the privileges of life.

Below are two examples of colons that can be used before the quotation:

He always repeated the same words: There is no choice. ✔️ He always repeated the same words: “There is no choice”.
What we heard from them was: Beware of the woods. ✔️ What we heard from them was: “Beware of the woods”.

Colon also can be used…

A colon is used after a comma in formal correspondence whenever the recipient is addressed by the first name. However, the writers need to pay attention to the rules of using commas in formal greetings and salutations. It is a common rule never to use the semicolon in formal letters after the salutation has been presented:

  • ✔️ Dear Mr. Jameson:
    This is what I would like to tell you about.
  • ✔️ Dear Mrs. Lauren:
    It has been a long time since we last discussed the options.

1. A colon can introduce a number of items:

  • He knew what to do next: Run, hide, and be quiet.
  • ✔️ He knew what to do next: run, hide, and be quiet.
  • I would like to buy these: In gold, blue, and black.
  • ✔️ I would like to buy these: in gold, blue, and black.

2. A colon can be used with bullet lists:

  • ✔️ I would like a person to:
    Do the chores
    Do the shopping
  • ✔️ Read the rules from the brochure:
    No running.
    No smoking.

3. A colon can be used with independent clauses:

  • ✔️ He achieved what he wanted: he received the letters.
  • ✔️ They knew how to get it: they were waiting for this.

4. A colon can be used without capitalization:

  • Remember what he said: You have to come home.
  • ✔️ Remember what he said: you have to come home.
  • This is the ancient wisdom: Truth always wins.
  • ✔️ This is the ancient wisdom: truth always wins.

5. Colon can be used before the quotation:

  • He always repeated the same words: There is no choice.
  • ✔️ He always repeated the same words: “There is no choice”.
  • What we heard from them was: Beware of the woods.
  • ✔️ What we heard from them was: “Beware of the woods”.

6. Proper nouns that follow the colon should be capitalized:

  • They ordered the entire list: amazon had discounts.
  • ✔️ They ordered the entire list: Amazon had discounts.
  • He typed in the link: google helped him find the item.
  • ✔️ He typed in the link: Google helped him find the item.

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