Colon Do’s and Don’ts
If you don’t think punctuation is important, those who read what you write are likely suffering as a result. Punctuation guides readers through copy, and it can either enhance or hinder the process. Most people know a comma means “pause” and a period, “stop,” but there’s some confusion about colon use.
DO consider a colon as a “gate,” since it’s used to introduce a list or explanation following a clause that can stand on its own.
I have two exciting things planned for my June trip to Chicago: attending my niece’s Bat Mitzvah and seeing a Cubs game at Wrigley Field with my nephew.
DON’T use a colon when introducing a list with words like “including” or “because.” The following sentences demonstrate improper colon use; eliminate the colon in both instances and they’d be fine.
It’s best to plan a trip to Chicago no earlier than May, because: it can snow as late as April and the sun is a rare commodity during winter.
If you visit during “Taste of Chicago,” you can sample local delicacies, including: deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hot dogs and more.
A colon is also used following a business letter salutation. (Dear Ms. Smith:)
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