1) Use commas to separate a series of three or more words, groups of words, or phrases.
For example: The proceeds are to be divided equally among development, research, marketing, and entertainment.
Note: Omitting the comma after marketing would indicate that the marketing and entertainment share a single share of proceeds. 2) Use a comma to separate two adjectives if the word “and” can be inserted between them.
For example: He is a creative, aggressive lawyer.
3) Use commas to surround degrees or titles used with names.
For example: Guido Mazza, avvocato, was not well liked by Judge Larsson.
4) When using American date styles, use a comma to separate the day of the month from the year and again after the year.
- We will be meeting the contracting party on October 5, 2006, at the factory.
- Note: Modernly, in some businesses correspondence, the comma is no longer used after the year.
However, if part of the date is left out, do not use the comma after the name of the month.
For example: We will be meeting the contracting party in October 2006.
5) Use a comma to separate the city from the country and after the country.
For example: She practiced law in Copenhagen, Denmark, until she moved here.
Note: In some businesses correspondence, the comma is no longer used also after
the name of the country. 6) Use commas for statements that break up a sentence.
For example: She is, I am told, a very clever attorney.
7) When using words that join sentences – and, but, for, nor, or – the use of a comma is generally considered optional.
- We finished the research, but need to write the brief.
- We finished the research but need to write the brief.
8 ) Use the comma to separate two parts of a sentence when it will help avoid confusion.
For example: I wanted the litigation team to consist of Luc, Garcia, and Sten, and Jones refused to be part of it.
9) Use a comma to start or insert direct quotations.
- The client actually said, “I am guilty.”
- “When,” she demanded, “will you have the final draft ready?”
10) Use a comma to separate a statement from a question, even if it is not in a quotation.
For example: I can appeal, can’t I?
11) Use a comma when beginning sentences with introductory words such as accordingly, however, therefore, thus, or yes or no.
For example: Therefore, the claim was denied.
12) Do not use commas to set out a word or a phrase that is in italics or between quotation marks.
- The term ambiguous describes the pleading very well.
- But: The term, ambiguous, describes the pleading very well.