Grammar Tip – Explaining Colons

The colon (:) is an important punctuation mark in that it signals to your readers that an explanation follows. Unfortunately, many readers tend to overuse it.

If you are staying on the same line, you must have a complete sentence before you use a colon.


Our client list includes many companies from the automotive sector: GM, Chrysler, Ford and Nissan. (The words before the colon form a complete sentence.)


Our client list includes: GM, Chrysler, Ford and Nissan.?(The words before the colon do not form a complete sentence.)


Our client list includes GM, Chrysler, Ford and Nissan.??The colon is also used when introducing a list.


The following information is enclosed:

  • A handbook including an overview of the association
  • A calendar of the year’s events
  • A members’ directory
  • Your membership number