Stop Using Commas In Emails

Published on August 18, 2023 by Sawyer Middeleer

Stop Using Commas In Emails

In the fast-paced world of business communication, the humble comma has found itself in a contentious position. From its origins as a critical component of written language, guiding the flow and clarity of sentences, the comma now faces scrutiny from professionals seeking efficient communication practices in emails. The art of minimizing punctuation, particularly commas, is not without controversy. Some argue this trend overlooks the nuance of language, while others applaud it as a step toward leaner, more direct correspondence.

Let's unpack the multifaceted argument surrounding the use of commas in emails, examine the potential benefits and disadvantages, and provide insight into when commas are essential and when they might be strategically omitted.

The Case for Minimizing Comma Usage

1. Clearer Communication

At the heart of minimally punctuated emails is a desire for clarity. Overuse of commas can lead to complex sentence structures that cloud the primary message. Streamlining punctuation encourages straightforward sentences, which may result in quicker comprehension by the reader.

2. Tone and Pace

In casual email exchanges, the absence of commas can reflect the natural rhythm of speech, simulating a conversational tone. Some argue that fewer commas can render communication more friendly and approachable – qualities that often align with modern business etiquette.

3. Time Efficiency

Fashioning perfectly punctuated prose consumes valuable time. In high-velocity work environments, the focus leans towards rapid and efficient exchanges. Dispensing with commas where possible decreases drafting time and speeds up the proofreading process.

4. Trend Toward Minimalism

In sync with the minimalist movement sweeping through various aspects of life and work, email communication is shedding excess in favor of simplicity. The omission of unnecessary commas aligns with this trend, championing brevity and focus.

Understanding the Commas' Crucial Roles

Despite the move against it, the comma remains an essential tool for ensuring meaning and structure in writing. Not all commas are ornamental; many serve vital functions, such as:

1. Clarifying Meaning

In cases where multiple items or clauses could be confused, a comma provides necessary separation. Without it, the message might be misinterpreted, leading to confusion or, worse, costly miscommunication.

2. List Separation

Emails often contain lists where commas serve as nondisruptive separators, enabling the reader to easily parse through multiple points.

3. Conjoining Ideas

Commas allow for the coupling of related but distinct ideas within a single sentence, fostering a nuanced discourse often needed in more formal or detailed communications.

4. Pacing and Emphasis

They dictate the reader's pacing, offering pause for emphasis or contemplation. This can be particularly impactful when trying to highlight specific points or lead the reader to a conclusion.

Instances Where Omitting Commas May Make Sense

While commas serve indispensable functions, there are scenarios where they may be left out:

1. Simple Sentences

Basic sentences with a clear subject and verb rarely require commas. The message is understood without them, and their inclusion might slow down the reading pace unnecessarily.

2. Informal Communication

In less formal emails, particularly those mimicking verbal speech or rapid exchanges, commas may be foregone to capture the conversational cadence.

3. Bullet Points and Lists

When contents are itemized in a list format, there's no need for commas as the formatting itself separates the elements.

4. High Context Content

In instances where the sender and recipient share a high context, meaning familiarity with the subject or each other, they may omit commas without risking ambiguity.

Balancing the Comma Conundrum

Finding equilibrium in comma usage is context-dependent. Here are some guidelines for striking the balance:

1. Assess Formality Level

The degree of formality required in an email often dictates punctuation rigidity. Internal emails with colleagues can tolerate more laxity than client proposals.

2. Match the Medium to the Message

Evaluate whether the content and intent of the message benefit from the inclusion or exclusion of commas. Formal proposals will differ from quick check-ins.

3. Consider Your Recipient

Understand the preferences and expectations of the recipient. Some may favor meticulous punctuation, while others embrace the brevity of less punctuated messages.

4. Revise and Reflect

Review emails before sending, considering whether the meaning remains clear with or without particular commas. Read it aloud to sense the natural pauses.


Email communication, with its demand for efficiency and its potential for misinterpretation, often treads the line between overly punctuated and dangerously sparse. While abbreviating punctuation, like commas, can align with modern values of simplicity and speed, it's essential to recognize the enduring importance of thoughtful punctuation for clear, professional communication. Discretion and context will determine the best approach, ensuring that our emails convey our intended messages accurately and effectively.

In the end, whether choosing to use commas or to leave them out, the goal remains constant: communicate effectively. And for those of us perpetually seeking to enhance our writing and our work processes, the tools we choose—from Aomni's AI-driven sales insights to the humble comma—will always be tailored to the task at hand, informed by the evolving landscape of business communication.

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