JS Tip 314: Commas V

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** From the Writing Workshops: Commas V

This is the last of a five-week series on commas. We appreciate your feedback and guidance. Thank you.

Use a comma before too or also only if you want to emphasize the word. We prefer the Steiner design, too. We prefer the Steiner design too.

Both are correct. The comma in the first example slows the reader and emphasizes—punches, draws attention to—the too.

The same guidance applies to too and also in the middle of a sentence, although with two commas:

We, too, agree with the ruling. We too agree with the ruling.

Use commas to separate titles and degrees from names. Return the application to Charles Tubman, Corporate Personnel Director. Charlotte Windsor-Bates, Ph.D., will deliver the Tuesday lecture.

Use a comma after the salutation in personal letters and email. Mom and Dad,

There’s a hierarchy in the punctuation you might use in a salutation.

Formal salutations call for a colon: Chief Justice John Roberts:

Informal salutations (most of what you write in business) call for a dash: Sally—

Personal salutations call for a comma: Mom and Dad,

Use a comma after the complimentary close. Sincerely,

But beware of the overly polite—and smarmy—complimentary close: Best regards, Very truly yours, I remain your most obedient servant,

Don’t laugh. It’s been done.

You might want to consider ending your letter or email the way you'd end a conversation: Thank you.

Nice. simple. Conversational.

What are your questions?

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JS Tip 313: Commas IV

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** From the Writing Workshops: Commas IV

Some small but critical points.

Use commas to separate nice-to-know information.

We’ll hire the managers, which we desperately need, after we’ve reviewed the applications. She intends to meet Gustav Schmidt, the CFO, in Rome.

Notice how you can drop the information within the commas with no major change in meaning:

We’ll hire the managers after we’ve reviewed the applications. She intends to meet Gustav Schmidt in Rome.

That’s a pretty good indication the information is nice-to-know and should be enclosed in commas.

Place commas inside closing quotation marks.

Always. No exceptions.

“The matter’s in review,” she said.

not

“The matter’s in review”, she said.

Use commas to separate items in locations and dates.

Your first stop will be Taos, New Mexico. Return the forms to me by Friday, May 1st, 2015.

Don’t use a comma if you’re referring only to the month and the year.

We’ll be done by October 2015.

Next week, we’ll end our discussion about commas.

If you have questions, let us know. We love this stuff.

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JS Tip 312: Commas III

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** From the Writing Workshops: Commas III

We’re still discussing commas.

Principle Three: Use a comma to separate an introductory passage from the main part of the sentence:

Three days after we completed the project, a storm wiped out the access road.

The introductory passage: “Three days after we completed the project.”

The main part of the sentence: “A storm wiped out the access road.”

Setting off introductory words, phrases, or clauses with a comma lets the reader know that the main subject and main verb of the sentence come later.

There are three kinds of introductory passages: small, medium, and large. No matter what size they are, an introductory passage cannot stand alone as a complete thought. It simply introduces the main subject and verb.

Introductory passsages can be short (one word):

First, we did a weather study.

Medium (two, three, or four words):

In that study, we learned the area hadn’t had a major storm in five years.

Or long (more than four words):

Despite what we had learned in the study, the storm still came.

Some references suggest dropping the comma with short introductory passages. We say balogna. Baloney.

Let us know your questions. Seriously. We love this stuff.

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JS Tip 311: Commas II

Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting

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** From the Writing Workshops: Commas II

Last week, we began a discussion of commas.

We said, “No other punctuation mark is as misunderstood as the lowly comma.” We believe that.

We’ll do this in a series. Each week, for the next few weeks, we’re review a different principle about commas.

Principle Two: Place a comma before the connecting word between two complete thoughts:

We’ll arrive on Monday, and the conference will begin on Tuesday.

Notice the comma after “Monday” and before the “and.”

It separates two complete thoughts: “We’ll arrive on Monday” and “The conference will begin on Tuesday.”

When would you not use a comma?

You wouldn’t use a comma if you don’t have two complete thoughts:

We’ll arrive on Monday and begin on Tuesday.

See? “Begin on Tuesday” isn’t a complete thought, so you wouldn’t use a comma before the connecting word.

What are the connecting words?

There are seven of them. They’re and, or, for, nor, but, yet, and so. They’re also called “coordinating conjunctions.”

There are other connectors—like however and therefore—but they’re not coordinating conjunctions (they’re called “conjunctive adverbs”). They have a separate set of principles. We’ll pursue that discussion after our discussion of commas.

What are your questions? Let us know. We love this stuff. We appreciate you.

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