Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

The colon#1

leave a comment »

This mini-series is all about learning to love your colon.

Just a quick note: don’t put a dash after the colon (:-). The colon is a tough beast and can stand alone.

The colon and lists

First, we’ll look at how to use the colon when writing lists. In this case, the colon is workhorse semicolon’s best friend. For example:

You will need the following on this course: your laptop; your mobile phone; warm clothing for the outdoor session; and your pre-prepared presentation.

Note that this would look even clearer on the page if you use bullet points:

You will need the following on this course:

  • your laptop;
  • your mobile phone;
  • warm clothing for the outdoor session; and
  • your pre-prepared presentation.

Simple lists

Simple lists need only a colon followed by commas (rather than semicolons) to separate the various things listed:

Peter had studied many different subjects: architecture, medicine, law and history.

Find out when not to use a colon with lists

Using a colon in sentences

More user-friendly info about punctuation

Advertisements

Your questions and comments are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: