How To Use The Colon Correctly
While less frequently employed compared to a number of other punctuation marks, the colon is actually one of the most useful of the lot. Not only does it introduce a piece of information very well, it’s very simple to use, too.
There are really no rules to memorize when using the colon. All you need to know is its basic function and you can immediately begin using it in your writing. The only time your grammar correcting software will likely chastise you is when you use it poorly right next to other punctuations.
Before we get further, let’s look at a few examples of the colon in action (yes, this one included):
- Jon Stewart has a new favorite target for his jokes: Sarah Palin.
- Kids have found a new way to vent their frustrations: to everyone via Twitter.
- That woman only has one thing on her mind: fame.
- I only use the iPad for three things: iBooks, RSS readers and Scrabble.
In the above examples, you can see the colon introduce a variety of constructions and it is employed exactly the same way. It doesn’t matter whether you’re introducing a word, a name, a phrase, a clause or a list — it’s so simple you can do in the most straightforward manner.
Any time you’re introducing something in a sentence, you can arrange it so that it’s structured to work well with a colon. Careful, though. Reading one colon in a paragraph is fine. Several times within succeeding sentences, though, is just as awkward as reading a paragraph that uses nothing but simple sentences.