I can think of many examples where an enmuration helps in understanding the sentence. However, I am not sure whether it is correct to put a colon before each enumeration. So which of the following sentences is incorrect?

(a) The density function can be estimated using both: (i)... and (ii) ...

(b) The density function can be categorized into two categories: (i)... and (ii) ...

(c) The properties of the density function are: (i)... and (ii) ...

(d) A function is called a density function whenever: (i)... and (ii) ...

(e) A function is called a density function if: (i)... and (ii) ...


  • 1
    You certainly shouldn't use (i)...(2); eiether use (1)...(2) or (i)...(ii).
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 15:59
  • @ChrisH Oh you are right. This was a typo & a CopyPaste. But do you have an answer for my question?
    – Shaki
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 17:40
  • I don't like to say "always" - hence no answer. I'm unlikely to enumerate only 2 items. Assuming you have more, personally I'd use a colon in b and c but probably not the others. That's not too say it's wrong though.
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


This blog post from Grammar Girl advises to only use a colon [I]f your lead-in statement is a complete sentence, use a colon at the end to introduce your list.

The Chicago Manual of Style website agrees in their FAQ.

That seems to be a good ground rule unless you are writing for anyone who has a style guide. If you are writing for a big company or a university find out if there is a style guide defining such things.

  • Thanks!. So you mean that only (b) needs a colon?
    – Shaki
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 8:09
  • @Shaki Exactly :)
    – Helmar
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 20:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.