punctuationWhen extra emphasis or a degree of formality is desired, a colon can be used to introduce a word, a phrase, or a clause.

There is one thing he wanted: the manager’s job. One factor cannot be ignored: the bottom line.

There was only one question left to answer: who had sent her the first warning?

Don’t overlook the most important rule: never argue with the boss.

A colon is frequently used after an introductory statement that clearly indicates that something – a list or an enumeration, for example – is to follow.

The case contains the following materials: cotton, wool, nylon and silk.


There were a number of unexpected problems:
  • the orders didn’t go out on time;
  • there was a breakdown in communication with   the branch offices; and


Look for the following features in a new car: a large motor, an automatic transmission, and an electric clock.


The general manager called the meeting for two reasons:

  1. To specifically identify the problem
  2. To determine a feasible resolution to the problem.

A colon can also be used to indicate that the writer wants to illustrate something or explain in more detail.

The countries are quite different: China has a controlled economy while Japan has a free market economy.