Simple rules on how to use a colon correctly

Simple rules on how to use a colon correctly
Table of Contents
  1. Simple rules on how to use a colon correctly
  2. What is a colon?
  3. How to use it?
  4. Connect full sentences with a colon
  5. How to avoid common mistakes?
  6. Capitalize after it in certain cases
  7. What are other instances?
  8. When not to use it?
If you wonder how to use a colon in a correct way, you should understand the meaning and purpose of this word. All colons are just like flashing arrows. They direct people’s attention to the information following them. They serve these basic purposes:
  • Present specific information;
  • Connect clauses;
  • Set off a quotation or a list.
They call attention to the data that follows independent clauses because this information should fulfill, explain, or amplify the facts or details presented before them. Once you learn how to use a colon, it’s simple to remember that. A great thing to check for any editor too. 

What is a colon?

It’s a special punctuation mark that resembles two periods stacked on the top of each other, and there are some different ways to use colons. What is the main purpose? People use it to create a separation between lists or explanations and independent clauses, and it’s quite a useful tool to separate quotations from such clauses.

How to use it?

If you utilize colons to direct attention, precede a list with them, and connect a complete sentence with a list with the help of this tool to set off certain information and make it simple to notice. Set off nouns with colons. Include them to join complete sentences with such words as proper and explanatory nouns or noun phrases to put a lot of emphasis on them. Introduce long quotations. To quote a long sentence, utilize a colon each time, but you shouldn’t do that if you quote only several words. How many spaces to use after a colon? Keep reading to find out more.

Connect full sentences with a colon

Use it to join or connect full sentences in your piece of writing if they are relevant. Make sure that the next one explains the first one. Amplify a particular statement it. Connect full clauses with it if the following one extends or amplifies the first one and follow the necessary rules. What if you need to introduce a conclusion? Utilize a colon to connect the sentence that introduces a specific problem with the other offering a valuable conclusion. It can also imply that the following one is its result.

How to avoid common mistakes?

To avoid the common mistakes that many people make, consider these rules:
  • Capitalize after colons only in certain cases;
  • Don’t utilize them after incomplete sentences;
  • Include them only to connect relevant clauses;
  • Don’t use them where a semi-colon belongs.

Capitalize after it in certain cases

If you utilize colons to connect full sentences, feel free to capitalize the 1st letter of the second sentence. What if teachers assign you specific formatting styles? If you need to write your paper in a particular citation format, such as AMA, Chicago, or MLA, follow their rules to get good marks.
  • Capitalize the first letter of the second sentence to meet APA requirements;
  • Don’t do that if it’s not a complete sentence;
  • Don’t do that if you must follow AMA or MLA formatting guidelines (unless it’s a proper noun);
  • To write a paper in Chicago formatting, capitalize the first letter after colons only if it introduces a few clauses.

What are other instances?

Avoid using a colon after incomplete sentences. A popular mistake that many students do is to utilize it to introduce nouns or lists after incomplete clauses, but they end up with disjointed and abrupt phrases. Use it to connect relevant clauses. If complete sentences don’t have any thematic or clear causal connection, you shouldn’t try to connect them with a colon. Don’t utilize it when a semi-colon belongs. To connect the full clauses that both have their equal weight in the text, semi-colons are better because they don’t draw attention to the following clause, unlike colons.

When not to use it?

You need to understand when to utilize a colon and when to avoid it at all to write academic papers correctly. You shouldn’t do that after the word “included” or “were”. Many people make a mistake by using it in this case. If you keep thinking whether to include it or not, make sure that your introductory clause can stand on its own. As you can see, these rules are easy to remember and follow. If you still have some problems with colon uses, you can easily get their effective solutions from qualified and experienced writers online no matter if you are a full-time or part-time student.