Colons with Lists



Rule 1: Use a colon to introduce a series of items. Do not capitalize the first item after the colon (unless it’s a proper noun).

Examples:
You may be required to bring many things: sleeping bags, pans, utensils, and warm clothing.
Please pick up the following items: butter, sugar, and flour.
I want an assistant who can do the following: input data, write reports, and complete tax forms.

Rule 2: Avoid using a colon before a list if it directly follows a verb, preposition, or certain introductory words or terms such as namely, that is, i.e., e.g., and for instance.

Examples:
Please pick up butter, sugar, and flour.
I want an assistant who can do several things, for instance, input data, write reports, and complete tax forms.

Rule 3: When listing items one by one, one per line, following a colon, capitalization and ending punctuation are optional when using single words or phrases preceded by letters, numbers, or bullet points. If each point is a complete sentence, capitalize the first word and end the sentence with appropriate ending punctuation. Otherwise, there are no hard and fast rules, except be consistent.

Examples:
I want an assistant who can do the following:
a. input data
b. write reports
c. complete tax forms

I want an assistant who can do the following:
(a) input data
(b) write reports
(c) complete tax forms

The following are requested:
• Wool sweaters for possible cold weather,
• Wet suits for snorkeling, and [and is optional]
• Introductions to the local dignitaries.

These are the pool rules:
1. Do not run.
2. If you see unsafe behavior, report it to the lifeguard.
3. Did you remember your towel?
4. Have fun!

Pop Quiz

Add punctuation if needed.

1. The following are required (a) wet suits, (b) fins, (c) snorkels.

2. Please bring (a) wet suits, (b) fins, and (c) snorkels.

3. You will need a few items for our trip to Turtle Reef, namely: wet suits, fins, and snorkels.

 

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. The following are required: (a) wet suits, (b) fins, (c) snorkels.

2. Please bring (a) wet suits, (b) fins, and (c) snorkels. (CORRECT)

3. You will need a few items for our trip to Turtle Reef, namely, wet suits, fins, and snorkels.

Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at 11:00 pm

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3 Comments on Colons with Lists

3 responses to “Colons with Lists”

  1. Kabeer Sayeed says:

    A good set of rules for using the colon (“:”)

  2. Himanshu Vaishnav says:

    Fabulous, I enjoy reading such pointers. It helps me a lot, and I use such lists and sometimes wonder if what I am doing is right. Now I know where to go in case of doubts. What I am also looking for are semicolon pointers where I am often not sure what is the correct way of using them in a paragraph.

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