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Writing Style

Colons (P-Co)

Use colons to create a pause in a sentence that is almost as long as the pause created by a full-stop.

Watch this lesson on colons in our LC elearning modules class in D2L.

Using Colons

In your writing, colons should be used for one main reason.

Use a colon between an independent clause (complete sentence) and additional information that highlights the idea in the independent clause. Using a colon emphasizes the information that comes after the colon.


Writing helps student nurses to development the ability to use important higher order cognitive skills that are necessary for successful nursing practice: critical thinking, analysis, problem solving, and decision-making.

This literature review was based on the following research question: What factors influence nurses' job satisfaction?

Capitalize the first letter after a colon when an independent clause comes after the colon.



Watch this 2-minute video about using colons.

Smrt English. (2012, November 16). Using colons [Video]. YouTube.


More Information

"Colons," GrammarBook

"Basic Grammar and Punctuation: Semi-colons / Colons," St. Petersburg College

See your APA manual, p. 156-157 (6.5 "Colon") 


American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).