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I am in the process of editing some proofs of an article for a scientific journal and came across the following sentence (somewhat edited as the relevant data has not yet been published):

Approximately, x% were motivated to explore the records to learn about their ancestry, y% because of health concerns, and z% due to curiosity.

The "approximately" at the beginning of the list refers to each of the percentages, which have been rounded to a lower precision. I am wondering if the following comma is appropriate here, or generally when one is trying to apply a modifier list of figures.

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    The comma should not be present. However, with 'Speaking approximately, x% were motivated to explore ...' the introductory pragmatic marker is set off by a comma. Oct 12, 2017 at 21:31

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Placing a comma after "approximately" in that sentence does not seem to me an effective way of indicating that it is a universal modifier for all three percentages quoted. It just sticks out as a punctuation error.

In order to apply "approximately" to all three, one really needs to re-write the sentence to something like:

X, Y and Z were the approximate percentages motivated to explore the records - respectively to learn about their ancestry, because of health concerns and due to curiosity.

But personally, were it me writing, I would say:

The approximate percentages motivated to explore the records, were X% to learn about their ancestry, Y% because of health concerns, and Z% due to curiosity.

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