How to use colons in an essay

A colon : is a punctuation mark used to start any kind of enumeration or lists. It is also used in titles and subtitles of books, business or formal letters, to distinguish hours from minutes when specifying time, and in a number of other cases. However, knowing how to use colons properly requires the knowledge of the following rules:. At the end of an independent clause when it is needed to list several items; usually, such lists are introduced with the words for example, namely, such as, like, as follows, and so on.
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How to Use Colons

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When to Use a Colon In Your Writing - Professional Writing

In Eloquent Science , I discuss my thoughts about colons in titles of scientific articles on pp. Dave Mechem University of Kansas emailed me to express concern about their overuse in some disciplines like geography, humanities, and some of the social sciences. For an example, take a look at this issue of Progress in Human Geography. Of the 9 scientific articles, all but one use a colon in the title. Two even use a colon and an em dash! Do people in these disciplines have more to say in the titles than us in the physical sciences?
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Semicolons, colons, and dashes

Rule 1: Use the colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items when introductory words such as namely, for example, or that is do not apply or are not appropriate. Examples: You may be required to bring many items: sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing. I want the following items: butter, sugar, and flour. I want an assistant who can do the following: 1 input data, 2 write reports, and 3 complete tax forms. Rule 2: A colon usually does not precede a list unless it follows a complete sentence.
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This handout explains the most common uses of three kinds of punctuation: semicolons ; , colons : , and dashes —. After reading the handout, you will be better able to decide when to use these forms of punctuation in your own writing. The semicolon looks like a comma with a period above it, and this can be a good way to remember what it does.
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