Grammar Tip – Colons

Danielle’s question: “We are having a debate in the office as to whether you can use a colon after the word ‘including’ in the middle of a sentence. Can you please help us?”

BizWritingTip response: A colon signals to the reader that an explanation follows.  You can only use a colon if a complete sentence precedes it.

Example (incorrect)
Our trip covers many countries including: England, France and Germany.  (The words before the colon — our trip covers many countries including — do not form a complete sentence. You cannot use a colon.)

Example (correct – without a colon)
Our trip covers many countries including England, France and Germany. (The words form a complete sentence and do not require any punctuation after including.)

Example (correct)
Our trip covers many countries: England, France and Germany. (By omitting the word including, you have a complete sentence.)