Give thanks for commas
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we often take time to think about what we’re most thankful for. Good health, family, love, financial security and good friends probably top the list. I don’t imagine too many people give thanks for punctuation marks of any kind, but the small yet mighty comma is on my list.
The overarching focus of my long career as a writer and editor is ensuring content is easy to read, and commas are one way to make that happen. They’re as important to copy as a stoplight is at a four-way intersection.
Here’s a little comma education:
That doesn’t take a comma but which does.
- Gabe is heading to Copenhagen for a semester abroad that should keep him busy.
- Gabe is heading to Copenhagen for a semester abroad, which should keep him busy.
Introductory words or phrases require a comma.
- In a break from tradition, Jenna is traveling for the holiday.
- First, choose the right tool for the job. (Note: Make sure there is at least a second, or rewrite.)
Conjunctions only trigger comma use when a sentence has two independent clauses.
- She finished the longer project, but she didn’t get to the shorter one.
- She finished the longer project but not the shorter one.
If you add a comma where you pause conversationally, you’ll usually be right. I think too many commas are better than too few, which can make copy hard to read.
An enchanting read
I was honored to have a former boss ask me to edit her memoir, a truly remarkable tale filled with everything from love and success in the early days of Silicon Valley to loss, saying goodbye and persevering. Its life lessons are powerful. You can find it on Amazon, or support her indie publisher.
Learn insider secrets from Henry DeVries and Mark LeBlanc, two of the authors of Rainmaker Confidential: How Top Professionals Make Smart Business Development Investments Of Time, Treasure, And Talent, during a free webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. PT. Register here.