Colon punctuation is often confusing because people either use too many of them or not enough. The function of a colon is pretty simple to understand: it introduces, emphasizes, and punctuates extended quotations, but that's not all! Carry on reading, and we'll explain what colon punctuation is, how to use them, and when to capitalize after them.
Colons ( : ) affect sentences in tons of ways, and you can use them to replace specific phrases "such as" "which is" or even "thus." Here are some examples of colon punctuation used in this way.
When using a colon as punctuation, there are some specific rules to bear in mind. The following list covers the dos and don'ts!
1) Always capitalize the first word after a colon if it's a proper noun. (There are some style guide variations to this rule, which we will cover later)
2) Colons aren't used to separate verbs and their object or complement.
3) Don't use a colon between a preposition and its object.
We've looked at common mistakes people make: let's look at ways you can use colons.
Constructing your thoughts and ideas can be confusing with colons, especially as different style guides say contrasting things. Let's look at a few different ways.
Clarifying is when you further explain a statement or situation, coming from the infinitive verb "to clarify."
You can use colons between two complete sentences when the second sentence explains or expands on the first one.
Bullet-pointed lists are good for demonstrating examples of particular things without necessarily having a defined order.
Only write a bullet-pointed list after an independent clause.
Here are the health benefits of our drinks:
Colons are a great way of introducing quotes. When you want to quote something or someone, introduce the quote and add a colon before the quote begins.
Colons are also helpful for extended quotes, and you can apply them in similar ways. If a quote is longer than forty words or three lines of verse, it's considered an extended quote.
Introduce the quote as before, but this time use line spacing to separate the quote from the introduction. Note: quotation marks aren't necessary with extended quotes. Here's an example:
I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'Well, if I'd known better, I'd have done better,' that's all...
Colons are used to introduce examples or provide more information for an idea.
To utilize a colon in this way, the first part of the sentence must be an independent clause, meaning it must be able to function by itself and make sense; here's what we mean.
Perhaps the most common use of a colon is when we create lists. When punctuating a list, we use colons after an independent clause. Here's an everyday example of a colon used in a list format.
Well, that's the ultimate question, and the most simple answer we can give is that it depends on the style guide you're using.
For everyday writing, you're free to decide whether you capitalize after a colon, except for proper nouns that must always be capitalized.
If you follow the AP style or APA style guides, they suggest you capitalize after a colon if it's the start of a complete sentence.
Alternatively, the MLA and Chicago Manual of Style recommend using a capital letter after a colon if it introduces two sentences, not one.