Use of comma in direct address, situation school reports


Is it acceptable these days to write the following sentence without comma punctuation:


Keep up the good work Lucy.




Great work Bobbie!


I proofread for primary school reports and indicated comma usage before the name in each of these 2 examples, citing direct address. However, the teacher was indignant, said she had never been corrected in this way before, and refused to edit her report accordingly. Are my 25 years of editing and associated experience redundant or is this younger teacher writing an acceptable school report in the year 2012?

asked Dec 01 '12 at 02:37 Jane McKenzie New member

3 answers


The rules of punctuation, at least in this regard, have not changed. Although there are, in American English, a variety of competing style guides, those that address this issue agree; a comma is required.


Perhaps the most comprehensive source is the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition, 2010, University of Chicago Press). At 6.38 (pages 319-320), CMoS tells us:


"A comma is used to set off names or words used in direcrt address and informal corresponce (in formal correspondence, a colon usually follows the name)."

link comment answered Dec 01 '12 at 04:46 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Isn't it interesting when a person supports their argument with, "No one ever complained before!" Stick to your guns, Jane.  Those primary students deserve to see correct punctuation from their teacher. 

link comment edited Dec 01 '12 at 05:15 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

I am incredibly grateful to you for your answers - the reports have gone home to parents, most of whom probably won't even notice, let alone comment. I just needed some support from other editors and grammar nuts out there, and I now feel quietly vindicated, although nothing will change! Thanks again. Jane

link answered Dec 01 '12 at 05:28 Jane McKenzie New member

That's the problem in our profession, isn't it? Unfortunately, using good grammar is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. It gives you a warm feeling, but few people notice (credit to Charlie Brown).

TolleyDec 01 '12 at 20:48

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