Posted by: episystechpubs | October 22, 2014

Nifty Nuggets: Colons

I’m back! Let’s get this party started!

Today I’m going to talk about colons. We use colons to introduce quotations, explanations, examples, and lists. What follows a colon can also be an explanation or summary of what precedes the colon. When not introducing a list, a colon indicates "this is what I am talking about" or "here is an example."

When using a colon, remember that the phrase preceding the colon must be a complete sentence.

Use colons in these circumstances:

· To introduce a clause or phrase that explains or restates what went before the colon


o This is the Synapsys interface: it is a customer relationship management product that presents complete profile information for members.

· To introduce a list


o The Acquire Option parameter has three possible settings: (0) None, (1) Individual, and (2) Consolidate.

· To introduce a bulleted list


o Choose one of these options:

§ Select (0) None if this service is a non-loan product which does not require information from the credit report.

§ Select (1) Individual if this service is designed to replace loans found on the credit report on a one-to-one basis.

§ Select (2) Consolidate if this service is designed to replace loans found on the credit report on a one-too-many basis.

· To separate title and subtitle (preferred instead of a hyphen)

· To express time and ratios when used between numbers

Per the JHA Style Guide for Technical Communication and Training, when using a colon to introduce a list, eliminate the words the following.


Incorrect: Entries include the following:

Correct: Entries include:

Symitar technical writers, please don’t give me the stink eye when I pass you in the hall. Do your best to avoid using the words the following when introducing a list.

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.542.6711 | Extension: 766711

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