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    Although a colon is still useful in causing a reader to pause before pushing into and through a series or itemized list, the dash has taken over many of its other functions. The caveat, which applies to the use of semicolons, applies to the use of semicolons. Colons facilitate the construction of long, unwieldy sentences. Instead, the aspiring writer should strive for shorter statements that are easier to understand.

    Here are the common applications of the colon:

  1. Use a colon in advance of a word, phrase, or clause that extends or amplifies what precedes it.

    • This year William's favorite pastime, golf, was replaced by something new: a girl friend.
    • The issue is quite simple to understand: We raise prices or close the business.

  2. Use a colon to introduce a series or a list, particularly after a term such as "as follows" or "the following."

    • The sequence in which the colors were assigned is as follows: blue, green, red, yellow, black.
    • The operations undertaken were the following: printing, die-cutting, folding, collating, binding, trimming, and packaging.

  3. Use a colon to set off lengthy quoted copy from the rest of the text by indentation without the use of quotation marks.

    • The term, absorption rate, has been explained in Speaking Real Estate as follows:

      The estimated annual sales (or new occupancies) of a particular type of property or land use. The number of units or properties of a specified type, which one expects the market to absorb during the following twelve months. A developer or builder may take that figure and multiply it by his anticipated market share to forecast his sales of units or homes during the coming year.

  4. Use a colon to separate titles and subtitle of books and other publications.

    • Calendar Of Summer Courses: Arts and Science
    • The New Bilingualism: An Evaluation of the Impact of Immigration Policy on Prevailing Language Practices

  5. Use a colon after the formal greeting in correspondence.

    • Dear Frederick:
    • Dear Sir:
    • Dear Executive:
    • Ladies and Gentlemen:
    • To Whom It May Concern:

  6. Use a colon after the headings in memorandums.

    • TO:
    • FROM:
    • SUBJECT:

  7. Use a colon to express the time of day.

    • 11:30 a.m.

  8. Use colons to express proportions and ratios.

    • 2:1
    • 1:1
    • 5:3:1

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