Colons in References, Times, Ratios, and Titles

by Craig Shrives

Colons in References, Ratios, Times, and Titles

Colons are useful to divide the parts of:
  • References. For example:
    • Genesis 1:1 starts "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
  • Ratios. For example:
    • It's myth that the ratio of women to men in Nottingham is 6:1.
  • Times. For example:
    • The happiest hour of the day is between 19:00 and 20:00.
    • The marathon world record is 2:02:57. The 800m world record is 1:40.91.
    • (Colons are used in timings greater than a minute.)
  • Titles. For example:
    • "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
    • (A semicolon, a comma, and "or" are also commonly used to separate a title from a subtitle.)
Colons often make better separators than the alternative punctuation marks.

colons as separators in references, times, ratios, and titles

Another Example of Colons Used in a Reference

Here is another example of colons used in a reference:
  • Learn Chapter XIV: Section 4: Paragraph 6 by tomorrow.
  • (Commas could have been used in this example.)

Examples of Colons Used in Titles

Here are two more examples of colons used to separate main titles from subtitles:
  • "How To Get Your Own Way: Who's Manipulating You?"
  • "Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision"

Example of Colons Used in Times

Here is another example of a colon used to separate the hours from the minutes in a time:
  • The alarm clock is set for 07:30.
  • (0730 and 07.30 are also correct.)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

How to use colons to extend sentences Using colons for introductions Colons with bullet points Colons with quotations