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Grammar Tips & Tidbits


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Colons: Part II


Last week's issue of Grammar Tips & Tidbits featured the first of a two-part series on colons. If you missed it, you can read it here. Now for Part II!

The following rules come from The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation website, courtesy of Jane Straus.¹ You can view additional tips, read Jane's blog, or purchase her book at the following website: http://www.grammarbook.com. Jane's site also includes tons of free quizzes for testing your knowledge. If you can't get enough grammar quizzes, you're in luck. Jane recently launched a subscription area containing over 100 interactive quizzes!

by Jane Straus

Rule 4                Use a colon instead of a semicolon between two strong clauses (sentences) when the second clause explains or illustrates the first clause and no coordinating conjunction is being used to connect the clauses. If only one sentence follows the colon, do not capitalize the first word of the new sentence. If two or more sentences follow the colon, capitalize the first word of each sentence following.


I enjoy reading: novels by Kurt Vonnegut are among my favorites.


Garlic is used in Italian cooking: it greatly enhances the flavor of pasta dishes.
    Garlic is used in Italian cooking: It greatly enhances the flavor of pasta dishes. It also enhances the flavor of eggplant.
Rule 5 Use the colon to introduce a direct quotation that is more than three typewritten lines in length. In this situation, leave a blank line above and below the quoted material. Single space the long quotation. Some style manuals say to indent one-half inch on both the left and right margins; others say to indent only on the left margin. Quotation marks are not used.
Rule 6 Use the colon to follow the salutation of a business letter even when addressing someone by his/her first name. Never use a semicolon after a salutation. A comma is used after the salutation for personal correspondence.
  Example Dear Ms. Rodriguez:

If you've read the last three newsletters carefully, you should be ready for a quiz!

Click here to take an interactive Semicolons and Colons quiz on The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation website!

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1.  Straus, Jane. "Colons." The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.
     Published with permission.