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Colons and dashes

Colons and dashes

Author: Ryan Howard

    Explain colons and when they are commonly used. 


    Explain dashes and when they are commonly used. 


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to use correct punctuation and who is confused about how to use colons and dashes. It will explain instances when it is appropriate to use colons and dashes according to style and audience. 

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All About Colons

In this presentation, you will learn about colons and when they are used.

Using a Colon


In this packet, you have learned:


Colons are used for the following:


  • Separating the hour from the minute when dealing with time
  • After a business letter's salutation
  • Introducing a long quotation
  • Introducing a list, particularly with words such as "namely" and "as follows"
  • Separating the chapter and verse of a Biblical passage
  • Using ratios
  • When introducing dialogue after the character's name in a script

They are NOT used:

  • To address a personal letter
  • Between a verb and its object
  • When using a list that follows a verb or preposition


Dashes are used for the following:

  • To indicate  a sudden change in thought within a sentence
  • To express range
  • To connect two equally-weighted words (Roe - Wade debate)
  • At the beginning and end of words separated by a comma
  • To add in a phrase that is equal to "namely" or "in other words."

Source: see above sections for sources