Sunday, April 20, 2008

Effective writing: Don't place those commas willy-nilly; there are rules

Not all commas are the same. Some are mandatory, others optional. Want to know the difference?

First, you need to ask yourself: Am I a heavy punctuator or a light punctuator? If you're a heavy punctuator, life is easy. You use commas here, you use commas there, you use commas everywhere.

If you're a light punctuator, you must be more discriminating. You use only mandatory commas. Although you work harder than a heavy punctuator, you seem up to date. Heavy punctuators drop in so many optional commas that their style seems cumbersome and old-fashioned. Light punctuators prefer to let the text flow without extraneous punctuation, a style that appeals to the modern eye.

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