Public Services and Procurement Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional Links


Important notice

The Canadian Style has been archived and won’t be updated before it is permanently deleted.

For the most up-to-date content, please consult Writing Tips Plus, which combines content from Writing Tips and The Canadian Style. And don’t forget to update your bookmarks!


7.16 Clarity and emphasis

Sometimes the reader will be led astray by a word or phrase which appears at first to be used in one sense but turns out from the context to be used in another. In all the following examples, commas should have been used in order to prevent misreading:

  • In all his efforts were quite laudable.
    (comma after In all)
  • He was taken to the cleaners and left without any money, he soon grew desperate.
    (comma after and)
  • In the presence of Sir Henry James began to quiver.
    (comma after Sir Henry)
  • I was high up and far below I saw the globe of the earth.
    (comma after up)

The comma can be a useful device for securing a pause or emphasis:

  • I am sure the contract will be signed, eventually.
  • Senior management had, once again, put itself in a no-win situation.
  • The end had come, but it was not yet in sight.