Comma use affects your credibility. Correct use affects both the trust readers have in you and the readers’ understanding of what you are trying to communicate. I find many comma errors in the things I read, not only in clients’ documents but also in the world around me. Some errors indicate that the writer doesn’t understand how commas are used. Others indicate forgetfulness about correct comma usage. I’m guessing the following sample is the later type of mistake.
See if you can find the comma mistake in this quotation from the website of an urgent medical care center in New Jersey. (Hint: One comma is missing.)
The [urgent care center] in West Caldwell & Paramus, New Jersey is the perfect solution when you can’t wait days or weeks to see your primary care physician and the ideal alternative to the emergency department when you don’t have a life-threatening condition.
To fix this quotation, we need to follow Zen Comma Rule AD: Use commas to separate all major elements of an address.
Following this rule, you need a comma between the city and state name. You also need a final comma after the state name to separate it from the rest of the sentence. To fix this quotation, put a comma after “New Jersey.” Here’s the correct version with the comma in place.
The [urgent care center] in West Caldwell & Paramus, New Jersey, is the perfect solution when you can’t wait….
My advice to this writer: Take one comma and call me in the morning. Or, for a home remedy, pick up a copy of Zen Comma and learn to use commas correctly.