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The punctuation mark colon (:) is almost always used after a complete sentence. Its function is to indicate that what follows is an explanation or elaboration of what precedes.

  • We decided not to go on holiday: we had too little money.
  • Mother may have to go into hospital: she has got kidney trouble.

A colon can introduce a list.

  • We need three kinds of support: economic, moral and political.

A colon is never preceded by a white space, and it is never followed by a dash or a hyphen.

In British English, it is unusual for a capital letter to follow a colon (except at the beginning of a quotation). However, this can happen if a colon is followed by several complete sentences.

In American English, colons are more often followed by capital letters.

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