The colon (:) is used after a clause to introduce additional explanatory information such as a list, quotation, dialogue or question.
The question is this: Who stole the cheese?
Some common mistakes are:
- using a semi-colon instead of a colon at the beginning of lists
- adding a dash after a colon at the beginning of a list (: – ).
Colons and initial capitals
Use an initial capital after a colon for:
- a quote
- a question
- proper names
- full sentences in bulleted lists
- clauses or phrases that would normally have an initial capital.
Chapter 1: Staring at the sun
Use an initial lower case letter for:
- items in a list such as this one
- a list within a sentence
Please remember to bring: a pen, paper and something to eat.
- phrases or clauses that amplify, contrast or summarise the previous words.
There’s only one word to describe his behaviour: immoral.
Online grammar programs
If you want to learn more about grammar, register for one of Mary’s online grammar courses at www.onlinewritingtraining.com.au