Chapter 16
The Period and the
Comma
McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Business English at Work, 3/e
© 2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Objectives
Use periods correctly at the end of declarative
and imperative sentences, courteous requests,
and indirect questions.
Identify miscellaneous uses of the period.
Use commas correctly between items in a series
and in compound sentences.
Use commas correctly with independent
adjectives.
PP 16-1a
Objectives
continued
Use commas correctly to set off appositive and
parenthetical expressions.
Use commas correctly with introductory
expressions.
Use commas correctly with nonrestrictive
clauses.
Identify miscellaneous uses of the comma.
PP 16-1b
Declarative Sentences
Use a period at the end of a declarative
sentence that states a fact, an idea, or an
opinion.
Rick finds job openings on the Internet.
Sara’s final interview with the company is on
Friday.
PP 16-2
Imperative Sentences
Use a period at the end of a sentence that
indicates a command or makes a strong
suggestion. You is the understood subject in
both of the following sentences.
Proofread your cover letter carefully.
Fill out the job application within 24 hours.
PP 16-3
Courteous Requests
Use a period at the end of a sentence that
makes a courteous request. A courteous
request requires an action rather than an
answer in words.
Will you please call the applicants to tell them
that the position is filled.
May I have the phone numbers of your last
three supervisors.
PP 16-4
Indirect Questions
Use a period after an indirect question. No
answer is required.
I wonder whether Bob applied for the accounts
payable position.
Jamey asked how I posted my résumé on the
Internet.
PP 16-5
Decimal Points
Use a period to separate dollars and cents.
$5.59
$178.25
$14,382.38
Do not place a period after a dollar amount if
there are no cents involved.
$5
$802
$78,455
Use a period as a decimal point to express
whole numbers and fractional amounts.
0.008
0.09
5.2
29.5
PP 16-6
Abbreviated Words and
Measurements
Use a period at the end of an abbreviated
word.
assn.
asst.
bldg.
intl.
mfg.
pd.
association
assistant
building
international
manufacturing
paid
PP 16-7a
Abbreviated Words and
Measurements
continued
Do not use a period after a measurement that
is abbreviated on most business or technical
forms.
ft
gal
hr
foot, feet
gallon
hour, hours
oz
qt
yr
ounce, ounces
quart, quarts
year, years
Spell out measurements when they are used
in general or nontechnical writing.
PP 16-7b
Small and Capital Letters
Use a period after each letter in abbreviations
that consist of small letters.
a.k.a.
c.o.d.
f.o.b.
also known as
collect on delivery
free on board (within sentences)
Do not use a period after each letter in most
abbreviations that consist of all capital letters.
CEO
HMO
PIN
chief executive officer
health maintenance organization
personal identification number
PP 16-8a
Small and Capital Letters
continued
Exceptions
P.O.
U.S.
A.A.
M.D.
D.C.
post office
United States
Associate in Arts
Doctor of Medicine
District of Columbia
PP 16-8b
Personal Names and
Corporate Names
Use a period after the initials or with
abbreviations of most names.
J. C. Williams
Thos. C. McGraw
Do not use a period with a nickname.
Skip Jenner
Red Stocker
Use the same format that an individual uses in
a signature or that a company uses on its
letterhead as its official designation.
Harry S Truman
JCPenney
PP 16-9
Titles, Academic Degrees,
Professional Identification
Use a period after an abbreviation of a
person’s title.
Mrs.
Ms.
Mr.
Dr.
Use a period after each element in the
abbreviation of an academic degree or
professional identification.
B.A.
Ph.D.
M.B.A.
M.D.
PP 16-10a
Titles, Academic Degrees,
Professional Identification
continued
Examples
Dr. Carole Bennett accepted a position as a
technical writer.
Sara Wong, M.D., hired Rose to work as a
receptionist.
Gretchen Carpenter, M.B.A., uses the Internet to
post company job openings.
PP 16-10b
Seniority Designations
Use a period after an abbreviated seniority
designation. Do not set off seniority
designations with commas unless the person
being referenced prefers to use commas.
Jason Harrison Jr. accepted a position in
Nevada.
Anthony James III applied for an international
banking position.
PP 16-11
The Period and
Geographic Locations

Use a period after an abbreviation of a country,
state, or province unless the abbreviation
appears in ZIP Code format.
ZIP Code
Abbreviation
NC
AR
ON
State or
Province
North Carolina
Arkansas
Ontario
Standard
Abbreviation
N.C.
Ark.
Ont.
PP 16-12
Shortened Forms of Words

Do not use a period after shortened words or
foreign words that are not abbreviations.
info
rep
specs
temp
ad hoc
in re or re
information
representative
specifications
temporary
for a particular purpose
concerning
PP 16-13
Outlines and Lists
Use a period after the numbers or letters that
identify items in an outline or list unless the
numbers or letters are in parentheses.
I.
EMPLOYMENT MATERIALS
A. Résumé
1. Chronological
a. Advantages
(1) Shows job history
PP 16-14a
Outlines and Lists
continued
Use periods after complete sentences,
dependent clauses, and long phrases in a list
or outline.
The keys to salary negotiation are the following:
1. Discuss salary at the end of the interview.
2. Let the interviewer introduce the issue of salary.
3. Do research on salaries for your field.
PP 16-14b
Outlines and Lists
continued
Do not use periods after short phrases listed
on separate lines if the lead-in statement is
complete.
Avoid the following job-hunting methods:
1. Unsolicited résumés
2. Employment agencies
3. Employment advertisements
PP 16-14c
Compound Sentences
Use a comma to separate two independent
clauses in a compound sentence.
Place the comma before the coordinating
conjunction (and, or, nor, but) that joins the
two clauses.
Most public libraries have company directories, and
most online services also offer access to these
directories.
Everyone knows about doing job hunting research, but
few people do it well.
PP 16-15a
Compound Sentences
continued
Omit the comma before a coordinating
conjunction in a compound sentence if either
or both of the two independent clauses are
very short (four words or fewer).
Read the job description and fax your résumé.
Do not omit the comma if it is necessary for
clarity.
Kyle interviewed me, and Maria tested my skills.
PP 16-15b
Compound Sentences
continued
Use a comma before the coordinating conjunction
when a subject is not expressed (but implied) in
one or both clauses in an imperative sentence.
Do not use a comma if one of the independent
clauses is very short.
Call companies that interest you, and ask to speak to
people who can give you specific information about
available positions.
Prepare a portfolio of your best work, and bring it with you
to the interview.
PP 16-15c
Series
Use commas to separate words, phrases, or
clauses in a series.
Include the comma before the coordinating
conjunction.
Be selective when listing job duties, skills, and
accomplishments on your résumé.
Please bring your résumé, a sharpened pencil, and a list of
references to the interview.
Interviewing effectively means listening to suggestions of
others, reading about interviewing, and participating in as many
interviews as possible.
PP 16-16a
Series
continued
Do not use commas to separate items when
each item is connected by a conjunction.
Cover letters require the exact last name of the
person and the exact spelling of the name and
the title of his or her position.
PP 16-16b
Series
continued
Use commas in a series of names in an organization
exactly the way that the organization uses the commas on
its letterhead or on another verifiable source.
Do not use a comma before the ampersand (&) in the
name of an organization unless the company itself does.
The firm of Farrell, White, and Jones specializes in
recruiting hospital employees.
Henderson, Hernandez, & Holmes fills its positions
through networking.
PP 16-16c
The Comma and Etc.
Use a comma before and after the
abbreviation etc. When etc. appears at the
end of a sentence, use a comma before the
abbreviation only. The abbreviation etc. means
and so forth or and others.
Do not use the phrase and etc.
Most experts recommend cream, white, offwhite, etc., bond paper for résumés.
PP 16-17
Independent Adjectives
Place a comma between independent adjectives
that precede a noun unless they are already
separated by a coordinating conjunction.
To determine whether adjectives are independent,
reverse their order or place the word and
between the two adjectives. If both revisions
sound satisfactory, place a comma between the
two adjectives.
PP 16-18a
Independent Adjectives
continued
Examples
James offered vague, disorganized answers
to the interview questions.
Anne conducted a successful, wellorganized job search.
A study of successful female job hunters
indicated that attention to detail is vital.
PP 16-18b
Appositives
Use commas to set off an appositive if it is
not essential to the meaning of a sentence.
An appositive explains or identifies the noun
or pronoun that it follows.
Kris Hing, CEO of Hing and Associates, looks for
candidates who speak at least three languages.
JOBS, an online listing of professional positions,
helped me narrow my job search.
PP 16-19a
Appositives
continued
Do not use commas to set off an
appositive that explains or clarifies the
noun preceding it.
The newspaper National Business
Employment Weekly offers job hunting
strategies.
The year 2005 was the year that I was
promoted to assistant manager.
PP 16-19b
Parenthetical Expressions
Parenthetical expressions interrupt a sentence.
These side remarks do not add to the clarity of a
sentence, and they are set aside by commas.
Parenthetical words and phrases act as
connectors, or they express a writer’s opinion or
explanation about the statement.
PP 16-20a
Parenthetical Expressions
continued
Below is a partial list of parenthetical
expressions.
after all
as a matter of fact
as a rule
at any rate
by the way
however
I assure you
as a consequence
as a result
as you know
believe me
for example
I am sure
I believe
PP 16-20b
Parenthetical Expressions
continued
Examples
Being unemployed, as you can see, allowed
me to return to school.
Unfortunately, Jack lost the disk that
contained his résumé.
Group interviews, by the way, are popular with
educational institutions.
PP 16-20c
Introductory Expressions
Dependent Clauses
Use a comma to separate an introductory
dependent clause from the independent
clause.
If I have to move to another state, I will turn
down the job offer.
Although the competition was intimidating,
Carrie still secured the job.
PP 16-21a
Introductory Expressions
Dependent Clauses
continued
Generally, do not use a comma when the
dependent clause follows the independent
clause or when the comma is necessary for
the meaning of the sentence.
Do thorough research on a company before you
go on a job interview.
PP 16-21b
Introductory Expressions
Prepositional Phrases
Use a comma to set off an introductory
prepositional phrase from the independent
clause that follows.
Within one year, he received a promotion to the
position of accounts payable supervisor.
From an employer’s standpoint, a thank-you
note that is sent after the interview is important.
PP 16-22
Introductory Expressions
Infinitive Phrases
Use a comma to set off an introductory infinitive
phrase from the rest of the sentence.
To save time, more companies are using résumé
scanning software.
Do not use a comma when an infinitive phrase is
the subject of a sentence.
To purposely lie on your employment
application may cause dismissal from most
positions.
PP 16-23
Introductory Expressions
Participial Phrases
Use a comma to set off an introductory
participial phrase from the rest of the
sentence.
Surprised by the results of my skill tests, I
decided to set new goals.
Reviewing her cover letter, Terri realized that she
had used an incorrect telephone number.
PP 16-24
Nonrestrictive Adjective Clauses
Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive adjective
clause from the rest of the sentence. A
nonrestrictive adjective clause is not necessary
for the meaning of the word that it modifies.
Drug testing, which is becoming more
prevalent, is a requirement for some
occupations.
I carry my résumé in a leather portfolio, which
was a graduation gift.
PP 16-25
Restrictive Adjective Clauses
Do not set off a restrictive adjective clause
(necessary for the meaning of the word that it
modifies) from the rest of the sentence.
Job applicants who arrive late for their
interviews are usually not hired at our firm.
A college degree that emphasizes
communication skills is valuable in today’s job
market.
PP 16-26
Contrasting Expressions
Use commas to set aside a contrasting
expression from the rest of the sentence. A
contrasting expression often begins with the
word not or never. A contrasting expression
contradicts the noun or idea that it follows.
The interview, not the résumé, gets you the job.
The position for which Nina is interviewing is an
existing position, not a new one.
PP 16-27
Direct Address
Use commas to set off the names of
individuals who are being addressed directly.
You will be pleased to know, Larry, that you will
receive a bonus this year.
Sheila, you are a finalist for the position.
PP 16-28
Tag Questions
Use a comma to separate a tag question from
the rest of the sentence.
We have five job candidates to interview
today, don’t we?
We do not need to interview the job
candidates on Saturday, do we?
PP 16-29
Quotations
Use a comma to introduce a direct quotation
or set it off from other parts of a sentence.
Mr. Bertoli asked me, “How do you define
success?”
“Success,” Mr. Bertoli said, “depends upon your
own definition.”
Do not use a comma to set off an indirect
quotation.
Mr. Bertoli said that success depends upon your
own definition.
PP 16-30
Dates
Use a comma before and after the year when a
date includes a month, day, and year.
I hope to graduate by June 30, 2007, or at the
latest December 31, 2007.
Do not use a comma if only the month and day or
only the month and year are in a sentence.
Mr. Elias indicated that he would notify me by
August 5 about the position.
My first interview was in October 2005 for a retail
sales position.
PP 16-31
Addresses
Use commas to separate parts of an address
or geographical location.
Do not place a comma between a state name
or a two-letter state abbreviation and the ZIP
Code within a document or on an envelope.
I applied for a position at Sonoma State
University, 1801 East Coati Avenue, Rohnert
Park, CA 94953, last week.
PP 16-32
Occupational Designations, Academic
Degrees
Use commas to set off occupational
designations or academic degrees when they
follow a person’s name.
Do not use both a personal or job title before a
name and a job or academic degree
designation after the name.
Pamela Guzman, M.S., refers her clients for
vocational assessment.
Dylan works with Leslie Salazar, Ph.D., and
Luis Pardue, M.B.A.
PP 16-33
Seniority Designations
Do not use commas to separate seniority
designations from the name unless the person
being referenced prefers to use commas.
Lonnie Lamont Jr. works for Diamond Lane
Communications.
Nielson Electronics promoted Richard Whitmore II
to the position of comptroller of their Canadian
operations.
PP 16-34
Company Names
Do not use commas to separate Inc. or Ltd.
from the rest of the company name unless the
company’s letterhead or other official source
indicates that commas are necessary.
Fantastic Foods Inc. offers excellent profit
sharing bonuses to its employees.
PP 16-35
Numbers
Use a comma in a whole number with more
than four figures. Some prefer to insert a
comma in a number such as 3,482.
Rhonda discovered 12,325 career sites on the
Internet.
Do not use a comma in a policy, account,
page, serial, model, or check number or in a
house number in an address.
Policy 1503 describes our hiring procedures.
PP 16-36
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Business English At Work, 3/e