Use a colon (:) at the end of a sentence to begin a list or text (this example is meta):

The war plane was painted three colors: red, white and blue

Capitalize the first letter of the word following a colon if it is a proper noun or begins a complete sentence:

She sent a message to her niece: Nancy, she said, there is a tsunami alert.

The implication was clear: They had to get to higher ground before the wave reached the coast.

But: They had two objectives: divide and conquer.

Use to introduce a long quote within a paragraph. Colons belong outside of quotation marks unless they are part of the quote.

Use colons for time of day (1:30 p.m., 12:45 a.m.), time elapsed (01:23:45) and legal citations (U.S. Code 5:552).


Part of a series on punctuation.