Alternatively, you can register/login faster using
 
Register Free!
 
THE COLON RULES
 

THE COLON RULES

Sanyx ,  27-Apr-09
THE COLON RULES
This article is about the correct usage of the colon.

The semicolon (;), colon (:) and the comma (,) are punctuation marks that can sometimes confuse even the best of us. The easiest way to avoid this confusion is to follow the rules and remember relevant examples that show the correct use of each of these punctuations.
 
The colon is denoted by two dots one below the other. A colon is generally used in before a list, in a summary or in a quote.  Good writers use the colon as a promise of better things to come. The sentence that follows the colon is used to deliver the promise.

These are the rules for proper usage of the colon.

Rule 1:     A colon is used after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items. In such an example, introductory words such as namely, for example or that is are not used.

Examples:
  1. You will need to bring many items: sleeping bags, trekking shoes, and warm clothing.
  2. I need the following items: butter, eggs, and flour.
  3. My secretary should be able to do the following: (1) research topics, (2) write reports, and (3) present the data.

Note 1:
A colon is generally used only after a complete sentence. This is not really a rule but a general preference. Look closely at the two sentences below.
  1. If you want to impress your boss, you should: (a) dress appropriately, (b) be punctual, and (c) be accommodating.
  2. There are three ways you can impress your boss: (a) Dress appropriately. (b) Be punctual. (c) Be accommodating.
The second sentence is preferable to the first as the first part of the sentence ‘There are three ways you can impress your boss’ makes complete sense by itself.

Note 2: While using words or phrases in bulleted form, you may or may not capitalize the first word of each phrase and end each of the sentences with a period. Either way, you need to be consistent in your style.

Example:
1.    My secretary should be able to do the following:
(a) research topics,
(b) write reports, and
(c) present the data.

 OR
2.    My secretary should be able to do the following:
(a) Research topics,
(b) Write reports, and
(c) Present the data.

3.    These are some of the game rules:
1) You can pass on the ball.
2) Do not run and hide.
3) If you are hit with the ball, you lose.

Rule 2:    A colon is used to introduce a quotation of more than three lines. In this case, quotation marks are generally not used.


Example:    
Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, wrote this:
Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.

Rule 3:     A colon is used in or between sentences if the second part clarifies, emphasizes or gives additional details about the first. In this case, a conjunction is not used to join the two parts. The second part is generally an explanation, rule, or an example of the first part.

Note 1: The rule for capitalization of words depends on the number of relevant sentences that come after the colon. If there is only one sentence after the colon, the first word of the new sentence is not capitalized. But, if there are two or more sentences, the first word of each sentence has to be capitalized.

Examples:    
  1. I enjoy playing racing games: bike racing games are among my favorites.
  2. Coconut is used in Indian cooking: It enhances the flavor of the dishes. It also gives an appetizing aroma to the dish.
Note 2: In the following sentences, the colon is used to introduce or put extra emphasis on a single word.

Examples:
  1. I know what I must do: practice.
  2. After trying to live with the guilt for all those years, there was only one thing left to do: confess
Note 3: In the following sentences, the colon is used to introduce or put extra emphasis on a phrase

Examples:
  1. He just had to win one competition: the royal championship.
  2. He could only think of one thing: his beautiful bride.
Note 4: In the following sentences, the colon is used to introduce or put extra emphasis on a clause
 
Examples:
  1. Remember the most important rule: the customer is always right.
  2. There was only one thing left to do: quit this job.
Rule 4:     The colon is used in more than one place while writing a business letter.  Firstly it is used after a formal salutation. It is also used in the heading of formal letters and memos.

Note 1: The colon is used after a formal salutation when the person is addressed by his/her first name. Remember that this is specifically applicable while writing business letters. In an informal or personal letter, the comma is used after the salutation.

Example:    
  1. Dear Mrs. Jenson:
  2. Dear Mr. Petrolli:
  3. Dear Club Member:
Note 2: In the heading of a business memo or a formal letter the colon is used to state or introduce the subject of the letter as well.

Example:    
  1. TO:
  2. SUBJECT: Application for leave.
Rule 5:    While denoting time, a colon is used between the numeral for the hour and the minutes. It is also used between the numerals in a ratio.

Example:    
  1. 10:10 a.m.
  2. He left office at 10:20 p.m.
  3. Milk and water are mixed at a 3:1 ratio in this sample.
Rule 6:    A colon is also used to state a summary.

Example:
  1. To summarize: he packed his bags, boarded a train and left town before she arrived.
Rule 7:     A colon is also used in book or subject titles, in biblical references between a chapter and its verse, and in bibliographies.

Note 1
: While using a colon in book titles it is placed between a title and a subtitle.

Examples:
  1. The Female Frontier: A Comparative View of Women on the Prairie and the Plains.
  2. Grey Power: A Practical Survival Handbook for Senior Citizens.
  3. Acknowledgment by Sidney Lanier - Type: Poem
Note 2: Below are the examples of the colon used in biblical references. It is also used to denote citations in literary works, or between the volume and number of journals or other publications.

Examples:
  1. Genesis 1:18-20
  2. Part 13:21
  3. Scientific American Vol. 2:34
Note 3: In a bibliography a colon is used between the publication location and the publisher.
  1. New York: Basic Books
  2. The King’s English. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908.

SUMMARY OF THE RULES:

Rule 1:     A colon is used after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items. In such an example, introductory words such as namely, for example or that is are not used.
Rule 2:    A colon is used to introduce a quotation of more than three lines. In this case, quotation marks are generally not used.
Rule 3:     A colon is used in or between sentences if the second part clarifies, emphasizes or gives additional details about the first. In this case, a conjunction is not used to join the two parts. The second part is generally an explanation, rule, or an example of the first part.
Rule 4:     The colon is used in more than one place while writing a business letter.  Firstly it is used after a formal salutation. It is also used in the heading of formal letters and memos.
Rule 5:    While denoting time, a colon is used between the numeral for the hour and the minutes. It is also used between the numerals in a ratio.
Rule 6:    A colon is also used to state a summary.
Rule 7:     A colon is also used in book or subject titles, in biblical references between a chapter and its verse, and in bibliographies.
 

PRACTICE QUESTIONS


Correct the punctuation mark used. Replace with a colon wherever necessary.
  1. The restaurant had many specialties, a spicy chicken sandwich, a roast beef dinner, a vegetable platter, and a blueberry cheese cake.
  2. They could keep their mind on one thing only, the one million lottery ticket.
  3. There was only one thing that kept them alive, hope.
  4. A number of unexpected problems cropped up. The orders didn't go out on time, there was a breakdown in communication with the branch offices, and our top salesman was recruited by another company.
  5. You may need to bring the following trekking items, warm jackets, trekking boots, sleeping bag, and warm caps.
  6. The attending lecturers are mentioned below; Dr. Judy Charles, English; Dr. Harry Gellar, biology; Dr. Shirley Harrison, history; and Dr. Joanne Smith, mathematics.
  7. High Risk - Children Without a Conscience
  8. To Whom It May Concern
  9. Aboitiz, F; Morales D, Montiel J (2003). The evolutionary origin of the mammalian isocortex - Towards an integrated developmental and functional approach.
  10. This conference has people that have come from the following places; Boise, Idaho; Los Angeles, California; and Nashville, Tennessee.
  11. Don't overlook the most important rule: never argue with the boss.
  12. One question constantly troubled her, why did he go away?

ANSWERS
  1. The restaurant had many specialties: a spicy chicken sandwich, a roast beef dinner, a vegetable platter, and a blueberry cheese cake.
  2. They could keep their mind on one thing only: the one million lottery ticket.
  3. There was only one thing that kept them alive: hope.
  4. A number of unexpected problems cropped up: the orders didn't go out on time, there was a breakdown in communication with the branch offices, and our top salesman was recruited by another company.
  5. You may need to bring the following trekking items: warm jackets, trekking boots, sleeping bag, and warm caps.
  6. The attending lecturers are mentioned below: Dr. Judy Charles, English; Dr. Harry Gellar, biology; Dr. Shirley Harrison, history; and Dr. Joanne Smith, mathematics.
  7. High Risk: Children Without a Conscience
  8. To Whom It May Concern:
  9. Aboitiz, F; Morales D, Montiel J (2003). The evolutionary origin of the mammalian isocortex: Towards an integrated developmental and functional approach.
  10. This conference has people that have come from the following places: Boise, Idaho; Los Angeles, California; and Nashville, Tennessee.
  11. Don't overlook the most important rule: never argue with the boss.
  12. One question constantly troubled her: why did he go away?
Other resources by Sanyx
Related Resources on this topic
Report Abuse


 
CAT
XAT
MAT
GRE
SSC
CRT
 
©2008-2014   Enabilon Learning Private Limited. All rights reserved