Colon (Punctuation Mark)


A colon is a punctuation mark that is used to introduce a list or a quotation. It can also be used to emphasize a word or phrase.

The colon is a sign of still greater pause than a semicolon.

In this guide, we will discuss the different ways that you can use colons in English. We will also provide some examples so that you can see how they are used in context. Let’s get started!

Uses of Colons / five rules of using colon:

1. Introducing a List:

When you are introducing a list, you can use a colon to separate the items in the list.


  1. There are three things that you need to bring with you: your passport, boarding pass, and .
  2. Sara owns four cats: a Mano, a kitty, a bellies, and a dolly.
  3. I want to buy several things from superstore: milk, honey, oats, and butter.

2. Introducing a Quote:

We  can also use a colon to introduce a quote.


The following examples show how colons can be used to introduce quotes.

  1. “Winston Churchill once said: “Never give up.”
  2. Shakespeare said: “ To thine own self be true.”
  3. Doctor gave her the following advice: “Eat four to five fruits and vegetables every day.”

3. Emphasizing a Word or Phrase:

You can use colons to emphasize words or phrases.


The following examples show how colons can emphasize words or phrases.

  1. I will never forget what she said to me: I love you.
  2. I want just one thing: happiness.
  3. I only have one rule: always be honest.

4. Introducing bulleted or numbered list:

To start a bulleted or numbered list, use a colon. As you can see in this example, the colon occurs before the bulleted list.


I need front desk lady for my office who can do the following:

• Make names list

• Write reports

• Complete forms

• Printout reports

These are the hospital rules:

• No children

• Do not shout

• If you see unsafe behavior, report it to the counter

• Have patience

5. Use after greetings:

In a professional or business letter, use a colon after a greeting (also known as a salutation). If the letter is formal, you should always use a colon, whether you are using the person’s first name, both first and last names, or their title. If the letter is personal, a colon or a comma should be used.


Dear HR Manager:


From: Diana Ross

To Whom It May Concern:

 Purpose of a Colon

The purpose of a colon is to introduce a list or quotation.

It can also be used to emphasize a word or phrase. When using colons, be sure to use them correctly so that your meaning is clear.  Otherwise, your sentence may be confusing to the reader.

Practice using colons in different contexts so that you can become comfortable with their usage. With a little practice, you will be able to use them correctly and effectively in your writing.

When Not to use colon:

1. A verb and its object or complement should never be separated by a colon.


(incorrect): The very best mangoes are: those that are grown in the great East of Asia.

To correct this, simply remove the colon.

2. A preposition and its object should never be separated by a colon.


(incorrect): My favorite dish is made of: peas, potatoes, butter, eggs, and chicken

To correct this, simply remove the colon.

Non grammatical use of colon:

Now that we’ve discussed all of the grammatical uses of colons, let’s look at some non-grammatical ways to utilize a colon in a non-grammatical context.


When writing times, students should learn to use a colon to separate the minutes and hours.

For example






Another technique to use colons into your math lessons is to write out ratios.

There is no space before or after the colon when expressing a ratio of two numbers.

For example





Biblical oblique references

In biblical allusions, the colon is used to distinguish chapter from verse, with no space before or after the colon.

Genesis 1:21 is an example.

Other instances

There is no space before or after the colon to separate the volume and page numbers of a mentioned work.

3:26–29 (Punctuation Quarterly)

This explain as “Pages 26 through 29 of volume three,”

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