Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
  1. Introduces words, phrases, or clauses that explain, amplify, or summarize what has gone before: Suddenly I realized where we were: Rome.  “There are two cardinal sins from which all the others spring: impatience and laziness.”—Franz Kafka
  2. Introduces a long quotation: In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote: “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable…”
  3. Introduces a list: We need the following items: pens, paper, pencils, blotters, and erasers.
  4. Separates chapter and verse numbers in Biblical references: James 1:4.
  5. Separates city from publisher in footnotes and bibliographies: Chicago: Riverside Press, 1983.
  6. Separates hour and minute(s) in time designations: 9:30 a.m., a 9:30 meeting.
  7. Follows the salutation in a business letter: Sir or Madam:

See also: The Colon.

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