Skip to content
Are you a comma master? Jill Kemerer blog

Are You a Comma Master?

Commas. Where do they go? Why did I throw one there? Does this phrase need one? Are seventeen commas in one sentence too many??? (Yes.)

I consider myself at intermediate level when it comes to comma placement. No matter how much I edit, I always find spots where I’ve misplaced them.

Are you a comma master?

Since I’m in the line-edit phase of a project, I’m overthinking the whole comma thing. Yesterday I got out my cheat sheet, a grammar book, and a CMOS style guide. I still had to look up specific examples online!

Let’s tackle the basics (thank you, Jan R., for graciously sharing these with me years ago!).

Commas go…

  • before a coordinating conjunction joining independent clauses.
  • after introductory phrase, especially if dependent.
  • between items in a series.
  • between coordinate adjectives.
  • on either side of a nonrestrictive word group.
  • to set off parenthetical expressions.
  • in dates, addresses, titles, etc…
  • where there might be confusion without one.

For a more thorough breakdown of comma usage, are a few sites I’ve bookmarked.

The Punctuation Guide

Grammar Book


How are you with commas? Do you have any tips, sites, or books to recommend? I’d love to hear!



Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of heartwarming, emotional, small-town romance novels often featuring cowboys. She hopes to encourage readers through her books the way so many books have encouraged her. Jill's essentials include coffee, caramels, a stack of books, her mini-doxie, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. For more information, visit her website,

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. In answer to your question. I believe I am a reformed comma master. I used to go by the ‘rule’ that a comma would go everywhere I stopped talking as I read aloud. It isn’t necessarily so.

  2. Jill, thanks for this lovely article.

    I copyedit and proofread for authors and publishing companies, so, yes, I consider myself a comma master. That doesn’t mean I don’t still look things up to confirm. The rules are many, and my mind cannot keep track of everything on its own. Chicago Manual of Style is my go-to book for help with comma placement, but I also use a few trusted websites for further clarity and great examples.


      1. It was the same for me when my first editing boss required that I use it. That thing is FAT! After several books and helpful tips from said boss, I finally figured out the thing’s usage. Now I cruise through it like nobody’s business. Hang in there! This is definitely one of those “practice makes progress” sort of things. You can do it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top