Colon (:) Copyediting Blog

Colon (:) Copyediting Blog


By Evan Papamichael

Manuscript Master Evan


Source: Macquarie Dictionary: Australia’s National Dictionary, 5th Edition., Macquarie Dictionary Publishers Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 2009, p. 341

Colon – Definition - "a point of punctuation (:) marking off a main portion of a sentence (intermediate in force between the semicolon and the period)."



Source: Handbook for Writers and Editors: grammar, usage and punctuation, McKenzie, Margaret, 2005, Dundas Press, Blackburn South, Australia, pp. 165-166

The colon (:) precedes extra information and distinguishes unbalanced sections of a sentence.


Methods of usage

To specify a quote

Hamlet states: “To be or not to be”


To point out a list

He prefers: athletics, football, rugby, tennis and soccer; as, a means to keep fit.


To specify a word, clause or phrase that explains the prior main clause.

The exam was difficult: many students failed; and, they were ill-prepared.


To distinguish numbers in Biblical citations and ratios; and, to differentiate title from subtitle in a book.

Luke: 8: 10

Height of 1:6 metres

The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South.


To begin or continue dialogue in a script.

Professor: The thesis is as follows. Theory followed by practice.

Scholar: Very straightforward; but, what is the end result?

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