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Language CentreTranslation and correctionLanguage Centre Style GuidePunctuationColon


dubbelepunt, deux-points, Doppelpunkt

The function of a colon is to:

  1. introduce a list;
  2. indicate that what follows is an explanation or an elaboration of what precedes it;  
  3. mark a clause in which reasons or explanations are given;
  4. indicate a sub-title;
  5. introduce a piece of direct speech or a quotation.

The rules of use

A colon:

  • is always preceded by a full sentence, but what follows may or may not be complete;
  • is always followed by a single white space in normal use and never by a hyphen or a dash;
  • is used after a word, phrase or sentence in the middle of a text that introduces material that is indented;
  • separates a title and subtitle;
  • should not be used at the end of a heading which introduces a new section of a document;
  • is not normally followed by a capital letter (although US English prefers to use a capital).
Last modified:15 September 2017 9.00 p.m.