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Punctuation marks
Comma, comma ,
Semicolon, semicolon ;
Colon, colon :
Point .
Ellipsis ...
Focus ·
bullet point
Question mark ?
Exclamation, exclamation, call signs !
Apostrophe, apostrophe '
- - Hyphen ; Hyphen ;
Supplementary line
Indent ; Up line -
quotation marks"" »«  /  «»
‚'› ‹  /  ‹ › 
Slashes / \
Brackets () []

The colon " : " (also the colon ; from ancient Greek κῶλον kōlon , German ' member of a sentence ' ) is a punctuation mark which is placed in front of a quotation, a verbatim speech or a list. He can also introduce explanations and summaries of what has been said before. The colon is both separating and emphasizing.

It is also used as a dividing symbol in mathematical expressions as well as a separator in mixing ratios (e.g. "2: 1", pronounced: "2 to 1"), scale information and times. In German, scores are also separated by a colon; in Swedish z. B. in prices it can take the place of the decimal point ("3: -") or in abbreviations it can take the place of the apostrophe; there and in English he separates book and verse in biblical references. In French typography, there is a space before the colon.


There is early evidence of the use of the colon (dikolon) as a reading aid for word separation or to mark larger units ( colon ), for example in an inscription on the so-called Nestor cup from Ischia from the 8th century BC. Further examples can be found in papyri from the 4th century BC. It was probably created as a simplified form of the three superimposed points, which are often found as separators in papyri. In dramatic texts, especially comedies, and in Platonic dialogues, the colon and paragraphos separate the individual speakers from one another.

Use in the spelling of the German language

The colon is counted among the mid-sentence characters, as is the comma or semicolon . It stands within a sentence structure; however, there can be a main clause both before and after the colon . However, it can never be placed at the end of a (logical) paragraph .

Before literal (direct) speech

... and before a verbatim thought in quotation marks after the announcement sentence:

  • I said: "What is not can still be."
  • The mother thought: "I'll stay at home."
Before lists and explanations

... if they are announced in advance:

  • "The four cardinal points are: east, west, south, north."
  • “The lunar eclipse can be explained as follows: The shadow of the earth falls on the moon; this is therefore completely or partially darkened. "

We are hiring:

  • "Buyers"
  • "Clerks"
  • "Programmers"

The colon as an announcement character is unnecessary and should be omitted if the list is already preceded by another form of announcement. These are formulations such as “also”, “particularly”, “specifically”, “namely”, “how”, “for example”, “and that”, “that implies”, “that means”, “among other things”, “ among others "-" The ship only operates on three days, namely Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. "

Note on lists:

If the sentence reads "The four cardinal points are east, west, south and north", then a colon can - but does not have to - be placed in front of the listed terms. Example: "The four cardinal points are (:) east, west, south and north." If the conjunction (here: and ) is missing , a colon must be used.

Often before conclusions, statements

... if they provide an explanation or a summary:

  • "In the end it turned out: The report was completely made up."
  • "Cattle and horses, sheep and goats, pigs and poultry: everything can be found on this farm."
Between an extensive, multiply structured

... antecedent and a suffix:

  • "Cars honk their horns, trams screech, motorcycles rattle and rattle, trucks roar: that's the melody of the big city."
Before announced

... signatures, certificate grades, assessment notes, timetable information and the like

  • “The Obermann: Karl Seeger - German: Very good - Style: Could be more fluid. - 1:20 pm (point is also possible: 1:20 pm). "

Large and lower case

After the colon, capitalization is usually continued when a separate sentence follows.

  • He said to his wife, "If you don't stop reading Wikipedia, I'll get a divorce."
  • "Shaken, he entered his charred library: all the books had been destroyed."

If the colon could be replaced by a dash , lower case letters are also permitted in independent sentences.

In all other cases, the capitalization is continued, unless the colon is directly followed by a noun .

  • "He called them all together: his cook, his wife and her lover."
  • "In Hamburg she found what she had longed for: an underground villa."


A colon is set within headings according to the above rules. At the end of headings, a colon appears to be superfluous because headings stand out clearly from the running text due to their graphic design and their announcing function is sufficiently recognizable. A colon is only placed in the middle of a sentence where the announcing and the announced text part are perceived as being relatively closely related, graphically and in terms of content.

Use in information technology


The colon is already in ASCII - character set included, with the decimal value 58 ( hexadecimal 0x3A) and consequently in Unicode code U + 003A. For full-width typesetting , as is common in East Asian writing systems, there is a variant under U + FF1A (:).

File path information

Under CP / M , DOS and Windows it is used for drive letters (such as A:or C:). In addition to data carrier volumes, AmigaOS also declares directory references - for example Workbench:(volume identifier) ​​or CLIPS:(“Clipboards” directory on the RAM disk ). Under Mac OS "Classic" it separates individual directories in the path, such as the slash under OS X and the like. a.

Use in programming languages

Some programming languages ​​(e.g. Pascal, Ada) use :=the assignment operator.

It is used in the markup language XML as a character to separate namespace and tag ; with it :can be specified as an entity .

In C / C ++ and similar, it is used to separate the two return expressions of the ternary (3-digit) selection operator ( Bedingung ? Zutreffend : Unzutreffend).

In C ++ , name conflicts of identical identifiers in different namespaces are resolved using the "scope operator" made up of two colons ::, e.g. B. std::chrono::system_clock, or to access class variables, functions and types.

The colon is also used to identify jump labels or labels ( Java ).

In JavaScript and JSON , name-value pairs are represented using the colon:

{ "name": "Wales", "vorname": "Jimmy", "gehalt": 0 }

Other addressing

IPv6 addresses are usually noted in hexadecimal notation, with 16-bit units of the address being separated from one another by a colon, e.g. B. 2001:db8:0:0:0:0:fee1:g00d, where several consecutive values ​​of 0 can be omitted and ::replaced by. The example just mentioned would be too 2001:db8::fee1:g00dshortened.

With URIs , the (first) colon separates the scheme to be used from the rest of the scheme , e.g. B. . Depending on the URI scheme, port numbers can be given, separated from the host name by a colon:

  • Without port specification, d. H. the standard port is used
  • - with explicit specification of a different port, here: port 8080.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Colon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Colon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wilhelm Pape , Max Sengebusch (arrangement): Concise dictionary of the Greek language . 3rd edition, 6th impression. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig 1914 ( [accessed on March 5, 2019]).
  2. E.g. PVindobonensis G 1
  3. ^ Tiziano Dorandi : Bookmarks. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 7, Metzler, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-476-01477-0 , column 90.
  4. ^ Duden - German orthography . 3. Edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim a. a. 2000, ISBN 3-411-70771-2 , No., p. 238.
  5. Duden-Taschenbuch Comma, period and all other punctuation marks . Dudenverlag, Mannheim a. a. 2007, ISBN 3-411-04915-4 , No. 194. Christian Stang: Punctuation . Hueber, Ismaning 2008, ISBN 978-3-19-107493-7 , p. 62 f.
  6. Duden Spelling Rule No. 93, Item 1. Bibliographisches Institut, Dudenverlag, Berlin, accessed on December 1, 2015 (Language Knowledge → Spelling Rules → Upper and Lower Case).
  7. Christian Stang, Anja Steinhauer : Comma, point and all other punctuation marks. Bibliographisches Institut, Mannheim 2011, No. 192: "The colon has the task of optically distinguishing an introductory or announcing text from the following text."