The academic community favors the serial comma; in a series, put a comma before the and:

  • The campus tour included the library, the gym, and the theater.

> See: dates (Common Quandaries)

You can omit the comma after a short introductory phrase, but only if no ambiguity will result:

  • At St. Mary’s you feel immediately at home.
  • BUT On the street below, a curious crowd gathered.

With conjunctions: When a conjunction such as and, but, or for links two independent clauses, use a comma before the conjunction if the subject of each clause is expressly stated:

  • We visited Washington, and our senator greeted us personally.
  • BUT We are visiting Washington and plan to see the White House.

Use a comma after introductory words ending in ly.

  • Previously, Thomas Lawley served as acting dean.

With numbers:

  • Use a comma in numbers of 1,000 and above, unless they appear in an address or SAT score.

Names of people:

  • Robert C. Goddard III is chair of the Emory University Board of Trustees. Teresa M. Rivero serves on the executive committee of the board.

Names of states or nations, with city names:

  • Last year we had students from Selma, Alabama, and from Fargo, North Dakota; this year we have students from Dublin, Ireland, and even from Reykjavik, Iceland.

Placement with quotation marks:

  • Commas always go inside quotation marks.

>See also: academic degrees (Common Quandaries) | class years (Emory Specifics)

Note: The Emory News Center is among the campus websites that follow Associated Press style, which omits the serial comma.