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Writing Style

Commas (P-C)

Commas separate different grammatical elements in your sentences to clarify your ideas and simplify reading.
Watch this lesson on commas in our LC elearning modules class in D2L.
Commas are most commonly used as follows:
1. APA Serial Comma: in lists of three or more items after each item
Example: “Before any drug is administered, healthcare staff must obtain, process, and communicate important information to one another about the patient’s medical history, physical assessment, disease process, learning needs, and capabilities” (Holland et al., 2015, p. 21).
Watch this lesson on serial commas in our LC elearning modules class in D2L.
2. Independent Clauses: before a coordinating conjunction only when the conjunction joins two independent clauses
Example: I reviewed the medication and medical history with my instructor, and I asked questions about areas I did not clearly understand while I was researching my patient’s condition.
3. Introductory Elements: after an introductory word or phrase that comes before the main clause use a comma to show the beginning of the main clause.  
Example: Before the medications were given, I communicated my assessment findings to my instructor and assigned nurse. 
4. Sentence Interrupters: around non-essential elements (words and phrases that describe other parts of a sentence but can be removed without harming the grammar of the sentence).
Example: Failure of the nurse to confirm the rights of medication administration, including the right patient, can result in medication error (Schub & Heering, 2018).
5. Subordinate (Dependent) Clause: at the end of a dependent clause that comes before the main clause
Example: Although I prepared myself with the appropriate knowledge required for the medications, missing out on one of the rights of drug administration could result in a preventable medication error. 
Watch this 3-minute video about using commas.
Salter, J. [Dr. Jodie Salter]. (2017, March 11). 4 ways to use commas [Video]. YouTube.
A printable handout that outlines the main ways to use commas can be found at the bottom of the page.
More Information
See your APA manual, pp. 155-156, (6.3 Comma).
Sentence examples courtesy of Tolase Risqat Lawal, 2018



American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).