Today I’ll tackle when to use colons. (Semicolons and colons are not interchangeable. They serve entirely different functions.)
I recently gave you the three semicolon rules. Colons are completely different. The colon is like the blare of a trumpet, alerting you to what’s coming. It comes after a complete sentence and introduces one of three things:
An example: We needed only one thing: a large piece of wood.
A list: Before we went camping we stocked up on the following: bread, chocolate, marshmallows and beer.
A quotation: The doctor’s words were encouraging: “You do not need to lose weight and can stop exercising and eat as much pasta as you want.”
Yes, it’s that simple.