Punctuation MarkColon “:” 8 Rules!

According to some grammar experts and experienced book authors, the Colon is the mark of expectation or addition. It’s because the colon signals that what comes next is directly related to the previous sentence.

So, what we don’t know is how to use Colon usefully. Let’s have a look.

Where to use Colon?

Here are some occasions when you might need to use a colon. We will talk about each situation more in detail below in the rules section.

  1. Use colons after complete sentences
  2. Use colons to format lists

There are other considerations as well and we will also talk about two frequently asked questions that come up around colons, specifically:

  1. How many spaces to use after a colon
  2. How to capitalize after a colon

It is important that you know when to use a colon, as good writing in English will usually make use of this punctuation mark.

A colon consists of two dots, one above the other, and it should not be confused with the semi-colon, which looks similar but has very different uses.

Individuals frequently contend about what number of spaces to put after a period (the short answer is that one space is more typical nowadays), and the issue likewise thinks of colons.

At the point when individuals utilized typewriters, the style was to put two spaces after a colon; yet now that nearly everybody utilizes PCs with word preparing to program, the normal style is to put one space after a colon.

So, for this purpose, there are several rules that are useful when you are learning when to use a colon. Let’s have a look!

Rule # 1

Use a colon to introduce an item or a series of items. Do not capitalize the first item after the colon (unless it’s a proper noun).


  • You know what to do: practice.
  • You may be required to bring many things: sleeping bags, pans, utensils, and warm clothing.
  • I want the following items: butter, sugar, and flour.
  • I need an assistant who can do the following: input data, write reports, and complete tax forms.

Notice how the things after the colon develop or clear up what preceded the colon. I alluded to my most loved pastimes previously the colon and afterward particularly named them after the colon.

A speedy method to choose whether a colon is adequate is to test whether you can supplant it with the word in particular. For instance, you could state, “Sentence structure Girl has two most loved diversions, in particular, watching mists and perceiving to what extent she can remain on one foot.”

Most of the time, on the off chance that you can supplant a colon with the word to be specific, the colon is the correct decision.

At last, individuals dependably need to know whether they ought to underwrite the principal word after a colon. The appropriate response is that it’s a style decision, and it relies upon what is following the colon.

In spite of the fact that the most traditionalist grammarians say you ought to underwrite the main word after a colon when the colon presents a total sentence, there are a great deal of grammarians who say it isn’t fundamental.

Since you never underwrite the principal word after a colon in the event that it is presenting something that is certifiably not a total sentence, I think that it’s less demanding to receive the less traditionalist principle for presenting complete sentences, and afterward, I should simply remember that the primary word after a colon is dependably in lowercase (except if, obviously, it is an appropriate name or something different that is constantly promoted).

Be that as it may, in the event that you are composing for somebody who utilizes style management, you should verify whether they have an inclination since it is a style issue.

Plus, a capital letter generally does not introduce a word, phrase, or incomplete sentence following a colon.


  • He got what he worked for: a promotion
  • He got what he worked for: a promotion that paid a higher wage.

Rule # 2

Avoid using a colon before a list if it directly follows a verb or preposition that would ordinarily need no punctuation in that sentence.

  • Not recommended: I want: butter, sugar, and flour.
  • Recommended: I want butter, sugar, and flour.


  • Here is what I want: butter, sugar, and flour.
  • Not recommended: I’ve seen the greats, including: Barrymore, Guinness, and Streep.
  • Recommended: I’ve seen the greats, including Barrymore, Guinness, and Streep.

Rule # 3

When listing items one by one, one per line, following a colon, capitalization and ending punctuation are optional when using single words or phrases preceded by letters, numbers, or bullet points.

If each point is a complete sentence, capitalize the first word and end the sentence with appropriate ending punctuation. Otherwise, there are no hard and fast rules, except be consistent.

For reasons unknown, individuals appear to get particularly confounded about when to utilize colons when they are organizing vertical records.

At whatever point I discuss the entire sentence rule, the following thing individuals ask is “Yet shouldn’t something be said about when you’re presenting a rundown, similar to a bulleted list or numbered list?”


  • I want an assistant who can do the following:

input data

write reports

complete tax forms

  • The following are requested:

Wool sweaters for possible cold weather.

Wet suits for snorkeling.

Introductions to the local dignitaries.

  • These are the pool rules:

Do not run.

If you see unsafe behavior, report it to the lifeguard.

Did you remember your towel?

Have fun!

Rule # 4

A colon instead of a semicolon may be used between independent clauses when the second sentence explains, illustrates, paraphrases, or expands on the first sentence.


  • He got what he worked for: he really earned that promotion.

On the off chance that an entire sentence pursues a colon, as in the past model, specialists are isolated about whether to underwrite the main word.

A few essayists and editors feel that underwriting an entire sentence after a colon is constantly fitting. Others prompt against it. Still others view it as a careful decision.


  • Remember the old saying: Be careful what you wish for.

Rule # 5

Capitalize the first word of a complete or full-sentence quotation that follows a colon.


  • The host made an announcement: “You are all staying for dinner.”

Rule # 6

Capitalize the first word after a colon if the information following the colon requires two or more complete sentences.


  • Dad gave us these rules to live by: Work hard. Be honest. Always show up on time.

Rule # 7

If a quotation contains two or more sentences, many writers and editors introduce it with a colon rather than a comma.


  • Dad often said to me: “Work hard. Be honest. Always show up on time.”

Use a colon to introduce a quotation of seven or more words that follows a complete sentence:

  • Miele (1993, p. 276) established the following: “The placebo effect … disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner.”

Remember one more thing, Use a colon to separate titles and subtitles:

  • Colons: Do we Really Need Them?
  • Richard Nixon: The Tarnished President.

When stating time, use a colon between the hour and the minute.

  • 10:30 p.m.
  • 7:00 a.m.
  • 3:00 p.m.

When referring to passages in the Bible, use a colon between the chapter and the verse.

  • John 11:35
  • Job 3:2

Rule # 8

For extended quotations introduced by a colon, some style manuals say to indent one-half inch on both the left and right margins; others say to indent only on the left margin. Quotation marks are not used.


  • The author of Touched, Jane Straus, wrote in the first chapter:

Use a colon rather than a comma to follow the salutation in a business letter, even when addressing someone by his or her first name. (Never use a semicolon after a salutation.) A comma is used after the salutation in more informal correspondence.


  • Dear Ms. Rodriguez:

Dear Dave,

Similarly, when writing formal letters, use a colon after the salutation. When writing informal letters, a comma will suffice:

  • To Whom it May Concern:
  • Dear Sir:
  • Dear Mr. Spiegler:

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