Comma Rule #1, using Commas in a series of elements, is probably the one rule that makes total sense to almost everybody; however, it is amazing how often writers will miss this essential comma due simply to inattentive editing. We will, of course, study this rule in class, but here are the basic rules to follow when using commas in a series of elements--these elements can be items, words, phrases, and even clauses.
Commas are used to separate three or more words or phrases in a list or series.
Commas can separate clauses, but only if the comma precedes a
If you connect two clauses with a comma, you create the dreaded “comma splice,” which is in my top ten writing mistakes of all time.
To “repair” this comma splice, you can add a period and make two sentences:
Or you can add a comma and a conjunction:
Or you can replace the comma with a semi colon:
You may omit the last comma [which is called the Oxford Comma] if there will be no confusion in meaning. I tend to use the Oxford Comma more often than not because why risk being confusing.
If there are only two elements, no comma is needed between the elements.
If you are introducing a list with a noun, use a colon to introduce the list.
If you introduce the list with a verb use a comma after the first item in the list:
There you have it. Everything I know about Comma Rule #1.