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Using colons

 

Techniques > Use of language > Punctuation > Using colons

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Lists

Use colons before a list, either in-line (use for single words or short phrases) or a set of bullet-points (use for longer phrases and sentences).

Contrastive separation

Use the colon to separate two sentences when there is a strong contrast between the two sentences that you wish to highlight.

For a weaker separation, a semicolon might be used.

Causal connection

Use the colon to show cause and effect, but without having to use words such as 'because'.

Example

There are three uses of the colon: the list, the contrastive separation and rolling the drums. (list)

Good language changes minds: poor language gets you teased. (contrastive)

I am weak: I cannot lift that box.

Discussion

Colons separate, but not as strongly as periods. In speech, they provide a pause: longer than a semicolon, but shorter than a period.

The colon can act as a roll on the drums, accentuating the difference between two sentences.

See also

Using periods, Using semicolons

 

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