Re: INC. Usage

Subject: Re: INC. Usage
From: Ann Howell <ahowell -at- POOLMAIL -dot- DOLPHINSOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 09:23:33 -0400

I know I'm coming late to the gate wiht this, but I asked my Grammar Guru at
GrammarNow! (a darned good resource, I might add) about the comma/Inc. thing and
I thought the reponse was worth sharing:

>Linda at GrammarNow! says:

Style guides disagree. Coincidentally, a long and heated debate is taking place
among a group of professional copyeditors regarding this very issue. I'll give
some of it:

One position:
Yes, insert the comma after Inc. when using a comma before it. The use of a
comma only occurs in a parenthetical context, which dictates an opening and
closing comma.

AP style, however, says to delete the word Inc. altogether, which is my
preference since it is generally superfluous. Occasionally, a business has
such an abbreviated, abstract name that the Inc. is needed to indicate that
it is indeed a business. In such cases, the New York Times Manual of Style
indicates that no commas are to be used at all.

That leaves you the following choices:
1. Two commas.
2. No commas.
3. Delete the word "Inc." altogether.

But one comma is not an option.

Another position:
When the company name is registered with the comma, you *must* use it. Whether
you place one after it in this circumstance is debatable and depends on
(fewer is better these days), clarity (no chance of misreading the
name), and house style if there is one.

"Inc." is not parenthetical and comma usage before and after it is going the way
of those surrounding Jr. Both usages are seen less and less frequently. In fact,
may omit "Inc." except in legal uses. Most major style guides allow this.
If I could place commas exactly where I wanted them, I would do without the
commas both before and after "Inc." The addition of "Jr." after a name is
and thus should *not* be set off by commas, though the commas have been used for
years. The compulsion to insert the second comma, at least for me, stems from a
deeply held (and probably not rational) belief that commas setting off the year
in a date and a degree or title from a name come in pairs. By extension, if
there's a
comma before "Inc.," there should be one after it.
The year in a date is certainly restrictive (and therefore should not have
commas around it) but it's hard to read without at least one comma: June 1,
1999. The
comma following the year is still used by a majority of but not all writers.
It's not logically needed, but so what? Punctuation depends on style and custom
and is
not necessarily logical. Putting in just one comma stops my eye and looks like a
mistake to me.

Finally another:
These commas are used as a matter of convention, nothing more. We expect them
because we're used to seeing them, and if they look funny when they aren't
there, it's
again because we're used to seeing them--and we've been trained to insert them
because they supposedly somehow "belong" there. But they "belong" there only
well, "that's the way we've always done it."
But these commas *are* being lost--especially the second one (the one following
Jr., Inc., the year in a date, the state name following a city), but
increasingly the
comma before Jr., Sr., and Inc. as well. And if the majority of authors these
days don't seem to feel that the second comma is necessary, then who are we
helping by
putting them in? Who is more representative of the general readership of the
things we edit--their authors or we editors? We
can fight the tide for a while, but we'll eventually be swept off this beach. I
no longer insert a comma after "Inc." or "Jr." in running text if an author has
consistently omitted it. I'm not to that point yet with dates and city/state
combinations, but I have no doubt that at some point in the future, I will go
with the flow.

[Me again]
Hope this helps. I vote for a comma before Inc. only if it is the registered
company name, but not one after it. Sorry not to be more definitive.


Linda DeVore
DeVore Desktop Design
Copyediting/Web Development/Publishing
lindadevore -at- email -dot- com (University of South Florida)

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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