Unlike its cousin-the semicolon, the Colon ( : ) is used more often in formal print, but not as frequently in daily writing. The Colon is a Punctuation mark that is used to precede a list of items, a quotation or an expansion or explanation. While a semicolon links two balanced statements, this punctuation mark flows conveniently from the first statement to the second. Usually, it links a general or introductory statement to an example, or a cause to an effect or a premise with a conclusion.
For Example, consider the following sentence:
• The tour operator said his package included: to and fro air fair, a complimentary drink on arrival, breakfast, evening snacks and dinner, hotel accommodation.
It is used sometimes to indicate more emphasis in indirect speech.
• The madman screamed: “I am not mad! The voice of God commanded me to slay."
Besides, in American English, it is used in the initial greeting of a letter.
• Dear Mr. Randhawa:
However, in British or Indian English, a Comma is used:
• Dear Mr. Randhawa,
But by far, the most common use of a Colon is to indicate to the reader that a list of items follows:
• The schoolchildren were told to bring the following items for the picnic: a torch, a sleeping bag, two sets of night clothes, three panties/underwear, water bottle, three hankies and a lunch box.
There are other uses of a Colon too.
It is used to divide the title of the book from the subtitle.
• Communication: Oral Communication
It is used to make a difference between the hours and minutes when writing the time.
• Now the time is: 02: 25 pm
It is used in differentiating the chapter and verse in the Bible or The Bhagavad-Gita and other similar instances.
• Bible: The Book of Nehemiah
Colon is used to introduce a quotation.
• Bacon says: “Reading makes full man, writing an exact man, speaking a ready man"
Before enumeration :
• The principle parts of English are: present tense, past tense and past participle.
• The three students who came to the seminar are: Clinton, Bush and Maud.
Between sentences grammatically independent but closely connected in sense:
• Study to acquire the habit of thinking: No study is more important.