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Comma Down—Commas in Addresses, Names and Dates

Most people do fine with these commas–mostly because programs like Microsoft Word send you that squiggly line when it thinks you’ve omitted something. But you always have a choice, so I’m here to make sure that you make the right one. 


  1. In text

When an address is part of a sentence, it needs to be punctuated both as an address and as a piece of a larger narrative. Here’s an example:

          Julia lived at 2936 Salsa Street, Apt 54, Tacotown, New Jersey 08080, before she bought her house at 6392 Bouillabaisse Boulevard, Codston, Massachusetts 02020.

     (Note that there’s no comma between the state and the zip code. Much as I yearn to put one there, I can’t find anyone who does. Do put one after a state or a zip code when it comes in the middle of a sentence,)

          We used to live in Sasquahatchee, Oregon, when I was a kid, but now we live in Yetiburgh, Oklahoma.

     (Always separate the city from the state and the state from any part of the sentence that follows it.)

  • On Envelopes

There’s no better place to go for this information that the good old United States Postal Service. Here’s what they have to say about addressing envelopes.

                    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Names with Titles

  • In text

Different style sheets may have different ideas on punctuating names with titles. Most follow these patterns as noted below.

Susie Megabrane, PhD, will be speaking on the correlation between intelligence and cranial circumference.

          Called in to consult on the case, Billy Bathwater, MD, stayed for days—until his patient’s tests were spotless and he was completely drained.

          (Set off the title with commas, but there’s no need to punctuate the titles themselves. If your teacher or employer asks for periods with things like Ph.D. and M.D., you may oblige them. But feel free to omit them in your personal writing.)

          William Wendell Weatherwax III went wild with worry when William Wendell Weatherwax IV was wantonly wandering West Wichita without watching where weasels were waiting with weapons.

          When little Stanley Porter Jr. was born, Stanley Porter Sr. vowed to make him the richest little boy in the land so that no one would have to choose between richer or Porter.

          (Periods come after Jr. and Sr. but no commas around them are necessary. Roman numerals that designate generations are not punctuated.)


  • Freestanding

               July 4, 1776

               February 29, 2024

               November 11, 1918

               June 19, 1865

  • In text

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted unanimously by the Second Continental Congress of the United States of America.

If you were born on leap day, then your most recent birthday fell on February 29, 2024.

Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, was the day that the allies signed a cease-fire with Germany signaling the end of World War I.

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect On January 2, 1863. Word was slow in getting to the people who needed to know and, even though Robert E. Lee officially surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, ending the Civil War, the last of the enslaved Americans in Texas didn’t find out that they were free until June 19, 1865. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth, Freedom Day, became a federal holiday and was celebrated for the first time as such on June 19, 2021.

(The day and year are always separated by a comma, regardless of where a date appears. If a date falls at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence, the year is also separated from the rest of the sentence with a comma.)

Time For Some Practice

Start with a list of the following elements. Look up or make up any that you don’t know.

  • The full name of a doctor along with the initials that designate his or her specialty—cardiologist, obstetrician, family practitioner, etc.
  • The full name of a teacher and the initials that designate his or her academic credentials—bachelor of arts or science, master of arts or science, doctorate, post doctorate, etc.
  • The full name and professional initials of others whose services you may have used—a lawyer, a real estate agent, a social worker, an engineer, an architect, an accountant, a veterinarian, etc.  (Think there aren’t many? Get a load of this!!)
  • The name of the street, city, state and country where you grew up.
  • The name of the street, city, state and country you live now. If it’s the same, as the previous answer, use a friend’s address or one in a place you like.
  • The name of a city, state and country where you would love to visit.
  • Your birthdate—month, day and year.
  • Five other significant dates in your life (or any other dates that you like for any reason).

Work as many of these names and dates into a nonfiction narrative as you can. Tell the story of your last visit to a doctor or dentist. Or explain what happened when you were looking for an address in an unfamiliar town. Or, write a piece about the ins and outs of filling out forms when you don’t have all the information you need in hand. Or tell a story about your childhood home and when you left it. Where did you go? When?

Or, go wild. Include as many names, dates and address in a fictional story as you can. Use the sentences above as models for punctuation. Have fun with it, but don’t forget to go back and check those commas!