Common uses of colons To announce, introduce, or direct attention to a list, a noun or noun phrase, a quotation, or an example/explanation. You can use a colon to draw attention to many things in your writing. To join sentences. To express time, in titles, and as part of other writing conventions.
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. Example: He got what he worked for: he really earned that promotion. Examples: input data. write reports. complete tax forms.
Semicolons should introduce evidence or a reason for the preceding statement; for example, this sentence appropriately uses a semicolon. A colon, on the other hand, should be used for a stronger, more direct relationship. It should provide emphasis, an example, or an explanation.
Colons with Lists. Use a colon before a list when the list is preceded by a complete independent clause. Never use a colon to separate a preposition from its objects or a verb from its complements. (The list is preceded by a complete independent clause.)
Do not use a colon in a complete sentence after phrases such as “such as,” “including,” and “for example.” Because phrases like these already indicate to the reader that a list of examples will follow, there is no need to introduce them with a colon, which would merely be redundant.
A colon is used to give emphasis, present dialogue, introduce lists or text, and clarify composition titles. Emphasis—Capitalize the first word after the colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.
Colons and semicolons can be used in the same sentence, but they are each used for different purposes. In this example, the colon is used to introduce the cities.
Examples of Semicolons: Joan likes eggs; Jennifer does not. The cat slept through the storm; the dog cowered under the bed. Semicolons are also used in a sentence when something stronger than a comma is needed.
Use a semicolon before such words and terms as namely, however, therefore, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., for instance, etc., when they introduce a complete sentence. It is also preferable to use a comma after these words and terms. Example: Bring any two items; however, sleeping bags and tents are in short supply.
Use a semicolon to join two related independent clauses in place of a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet). Make sure when you use the semicolon that the connection between the two independent clauses is clear without the coordinating conjunction.
Rule 1: Use the colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items when introductory words such as namely, for example, or that is do not apply or are not appropriate. Examples: You may be required to bring many items: sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.
The colon: is a punctuation mark consisting of two equally sized dots placed one above the other on the same vertical line. A colon often precedes an explanation, a list, a quotation, or a block quotation.
Rule 3: Use a Colon to Introduce a Bulleted or Numbered List. Use a colon to introduce a bulleted or numbered list. The colon comes right before the bulleted list as you can see in this example. Capitalization and ending punctuation are optional for single words or short phrases in bullet points or numbered lists.
Rules for Using Semicolons A semicolon is most commonly used to link (in a single sentence) two independent clauses that are closely related in thought. Use a semicolon between items in a list or series if any of the items contain commas.
Colons (:) are used in sentences to show that something is following, like a quotation, example, or list. Semicolons (;) are used to join two independent clauses, or two complete thoughts that could stand alone as complete sentences.