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I am having trouble determining the correct use of comma when specifying mathematical symbols, and the literature that I follow does not seem to be consistent. Which of the following would be correct usage of comma and why? The symbol CD refers to drag coefficient.

  • The enhancement of drag coefficient, CD, is partly due to the offshore flow over limited fetch.

  • The enhancement of drag coefficient CD is partly due to the offshore flow over limited fetch.

  • The enhancement of drag coefficient, CD is partly due to the offshore flow over limited fetch.

The reason for specifying both the quantity name and its mathematical symbol is because the sentence references an element in a figure.

  • The answer depends on what CD relates to: I guess it's the drag coefficient. If that's the symbol for the enhancement of the coefficient then the answer won't be the same. – Andrew Leach Apr 1 '15 at 16:07
  • @AndrewLeach Thanks for prompt reply, please see my edit. – milancurcic Apr 1 '15 at 16:15
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    I would favor the second, comma-less version, but particularly when the C<sub>D</sub> part is present in the sentence because that is the version that serves as a label in the figure, putting it in parentheses might be the best solution. – Brian Donovan Apr 1 '15 at 16:22
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    Your third version is wrong. Either of the first two are acceptable, but I would prefer parentheses around Cd, rather than commas. – Nick2253 Apr 1 '15 at 16:29
  • This is off topic. Maybe try Writing or Academia. – curiousdannii Apr 2 '15 at 7:25
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I like the second one best, hands down. This choice comes up in non-mathematical contexts too: My brother Billy is coming with us. Yes, you could write My brother, Billy, is coming with us. But there's no need. In a more complex sentence, the commas can be helpful, but here, and in your sentence, they just drag us down.

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