Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Punctuation: the colon and how to use it

The colon – the introducer
Robert L. Fielding

Hi there, I’m a colon. I introduce words – I introduce lists of things, and clauses and phrases introducing or illustrating what has just been written.

I sometimes have to direct the reader’s attention to what is called an appositive, like this – The question is this: What are we going to do next?

I can be used to separate titles and subtitles of books – The History of Russia: The Days of the Czar – like that!

If you see me between spaces, I am marking out things that are being compared or contrasted – The land is useful : it is often abused.

I punctuate at the beginning of memos – like this – Dear Mrs. Smith: - To whom it may concern:

And while we’re on memo writing, I appear in places like this

And I identify the writer or typist’s initials in the identification lines of business letters – like this – WBC:jmd

I separate carbon-copy or blind carbon-copy from the names of people the cc is sent to – like this – cc: Alan Smith – bcc: TFL

And remember, no space goes before or follows me when I am used between numerals – like this – 8:30pm – a ratio of 2:1 – or lines of identification – TCP:jg – but put one space after me in your emails – cc: Terry Smith

A lot to learn – just remember this page: read it several times and then stop and think whenever you use a colon.
Robert L. Fielding


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