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Colons

Even though semicolons and colons look similar and have similar names, they have different functions.

Introduce a List

Colons indicate that a list is coming up. However, you can only use a colon after an independent clause.

Wrong: My favourite punctuation marks are: semicolons, colons, and ellipses.

Right: I have three favorite punctuation marks: semicolons, colons, and ellipses.

Wrong: My employees must have:

  • good time management
  • computer programming experience

Right: My employees must have the following skills:

  • good time management
  • computer programming experience

If you’re unsure about about whether or not you can use a colon, check if the part before the colon makes sense by itself (i.e. is an independent clause).

If you’ve placed your colon correctly, you can replace it with “namely”.

Following Speakers in Interviews, Plays, and Transcripts

Chloe: What advice do you have for new bloggers?

Brian: Write for you target audience.

Explain What Follows:

Here colons and semicolons are similar. You can replace a semicolon with a colon if the second independent clause explains or illustrates the previous one. You can choose whether or not to capitalize the second independent clause.

I am so proud of Aubrey: she practiced for years to win the competition.

I am so proud of Aubrey: She practiced for years to win the competition.

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