Matthew Olckers Economist by day; graffiti nerd by night.


Commas have become a hindrance when I writing. I am unsure how to use commas correctly. I often find myself agonizing, mid-sentence, about whether to insert a comma. Let’s resolve this problem with the help of William Strunk Jr. and “The Elements of Style”.

In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.

Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.

Restrictive clauses are not parenthetic and are not set off by commas.

Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause.

Do not join independent clauses with a comma. The proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.

Do not break sentences in two. In other words, do not use periods for commas.