7 commas in a sentence, too many


Try to read a sentence with seven commas that aren’t used for dividing a list. I dare you.

I was reading through a handful of news stories Wednesday following the roads funding debate in the Senate. One story was written by a veteran reporter at an unnamed S.C. daily–unnamed because I don’t want to credit the publication in this case, thereby calling it out directly.

About halfway through this particular story was a sentence with a jumbled mess of facts, separated by seven commas. It was too difficult for a typical reader to decipher.

I suspect the writer didn’t have time to carefully re-read the story before filing it. I’m not sure what the editor was thinking.

As newsrooms are further becoming squeezed by staffing constraints, we as writers have to get better at catching and correcting our own mistakes. Otherwise, readers won’t read our writing because they won’t be able to understand it.


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