What are the correct ways to use a colon?
This page reflects guidance from the sixth edition of the Publication Manual.
Use a colon
between a grammatically complete introductory clause (one that could stand as a sentence) and a final phrase or clause that illustrates, extends, or amplifies the preceding thought. If the clause following the colon is a complete sentence, it begins with a capital letter.
- Freud (1930/1961) wrote of two urges: an urge toward union with others and an egoistic urge toward happiness.
- They have agreed on the outcome: Informed participants perform better than do uninformed participants.
in ratios and proportions
- The proportion (salt:water) was 1:8.
in references between place of publication and publisher
- New York, NY: Wiley. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Do not use a colon
after an introduction that is not an independent clause or complete sentence.
- The formula is ri = ai + e.
(adapted from the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, © 2010)
7th Edition Publication Manual
Available in multiple formats