Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Elusive Comma (Part 5 of 7)

(This post comes from Susan Titus Osborn.)

Commas in Lists of Items

When listing three or more items, place a comma before the conjunction (such as and or but): Paper, pen, and writer. Some publishers omit the comma, but they won't fault you for not knowing their style.

The important thing is to be consistent, so the editor can match their style sheet to your manuscript.

If your list contains multiple words, it can be confusing if you don't add the second comma.

* His pets consisted of a long-haired cat, a short-haired dog, and a noisy parrot.

The exception to this rule concerns the name of businesses such as law firms which usually omit the last comma: Dewey, Sokum and Howe.

If the list of items includes commas, separate them with semicolons.

* The blank, white sheet of paper; the black, fine-line pen; and the ready, spirit-filled writer.

Susan Titus Osborn is the director of the Christian Communicator Manuscript Critique Service. She has authored 30 books. You can reach her at susanosb@aol.com, http://www.Christiancommunicator.com/.

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