This week’s tip is brought to you by an often-misunderstood punctuation mark: the colon.
When to use a colon:
- To introduce a list, tabulation or text, where the text preceding the colon is a sentence that can stand on its own
New England comprises six states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
- To add emphasis
You had one job: to press the right button.
When not to use a colon:
- When a list is preceded by “including,” “such as” or similar words or phrases
The earbuds come in many colors, including blue, green and red.
- When a list is not preceded by a sentence that can stand on its own
The states that make up New England are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
- To combine two related independent clauses (this is a semicolon‘s job)
We tested a variety of devices; the Samsung Galaxy S6 performed the best.
Capitalization: Cap the word following a colon only if it begins a new sentence.
Let’s face it: We need to pay our taxes.
Colons and quotation marks: Unlike commas and periods, colons go outside quotation marks, unless they’re part of the quotation itself.
There’s a reason they call him “eagle eye”: He notices every detail.