When teaching and proofreading, I often come across examples of commas without spaces following them (e.g. "London,UK" or "apples,oranges,bananas"). In addition to correcting these, I would like to clearly cite and explain the rule.

I believe the rule is that a comma should always be followed by a space, but would like to confirm this with a reliable citeable source, and have a complete list of exceptions. The only exceptions I can think of right now are:

  • before a closing quotation mark: "Where," he wondered, "could it be?" When this exception applies, the space follows the closing quote.
  • Within a large number: The factory produced 3,252,975 widgets last month.
  • in the code portion of programming, where English grammatical rules don't quite apply
  • in Tweets, telegrams, or similar settings with character constraints that lead to relaxation of grammatical rules

Are there reliable sources for this rule and/or other exceptions?

  • 4
    I agree totally; punctuation and to a greater degree orthography are often style choices, but this one has been a standard formula for decades or above. In spite of Strunk and White's often deserved poor press, the rules Michelle X (and 'Word' advisors) echo are the same as yours and mine. // Please note that 'grammar' is seen as disjoint from punctuation (and certainly orthography) on ELU. // I'd also not use a comma in say "Where" read the sign "do you think you're going?" Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 16:23
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    @EdwinAshworth Retagged. While I would use a comma in that last example, I think we'd agree that if present, the comma would precede the closing quote with no intervening space.
    – WBT
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 17:16
  • 2
    Putting spaces in numbers can be confusing: "There are 86,400 seconds in a day" is clearer to me than "There are 86, 400 seconds in a day."
    – jejorda2
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 18:00
  • @jejorda2 I agree. Did you catch that the numbers example was in a list of exceptions?
    – WBT
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 19:01
  • 2
    @jejorda2 I prefer the more modern convention "There are 86 400 seconds in a day" (pretend that's a 'small space'). It looks clear, and (maths being a universal language) doesn't lead to ambiguities when those who use a decimal comma read it. Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


Yeah, comma is often followed by a space but that isn't the case with commas used in numerals, or when followed by a closing quotation mark. Numerals follows mathematical rules not grammar rules is the prime reason, while the reason of missing space between closing quotation mark & the preceding comma is simply because of old standardised grammar rules.

He said, "I am going to school." [Note there's no space between full stop & closing quotes but there's a space between comma & opening quotes]

"I am going to school," He said. [Note there's no space between comma & closing quotes]

Also check this website for almost all examples of proper comma usage.

Also, in regard to social media platforms, these aren't formal modes of communication and thus, grammar rules don't necessarily apply to them.

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