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Including but not limited to commas

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Including but not limited to commas
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I keep finding commas placed after but, as in this sample from a Bloomsbury novel: “She is not yet that committed but, determined not to be ridiculous, she . in my line of work is “including but not limited to,” used, for example.

Sep 30 2009   4:41PM GMT

When should you use commas with “such as” and “including”?

Which is correct?
We have received expressions of concern about wiretap Trojans from various _________ the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Privacy Coalition.
a. groups, including
b. groups including

Answer: a

Use a comma before including if the sentence would be complete without the part that follows. (The same rule applies to such as.)

Dan Santow explains this in more detail in his Word Wise blog.

Claire Caterer writes about using commas for greater effect in her blog, The LetterPress.

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Use a semicolon as a super-comma: if you need to make a list of including but not limited to grammar, punctuation, word choice, and style.

Including but not limited to

including but not limited to commas

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What is the correct punctuation for "This includes but is not limited to ..."?

This includes, but is not limited to, ...
This includes but is not limited to: ...
This includes - but is not limited to - ...
Hi SkeptikD,
IMHO the punctuation of the three sentences is acceptable. I consider 'but is not limited to' as a parenthetical phrase, so I think your punctuation is correct here. I may just add a comma before 'but' in your second sentence. (This is just my opinion)
I agree that "but is not limited to" might be parenthetical. But I think it is more likely essential to the meaning. I would probably not set it off with commas.

This includes, but is not limited to, ...

This includes but is not limited to ...

This includes but is not limited to:
The colon is incorrect here. A colon should be preceded by a complete sentence.

This includes -- but is not limited to -- ...
Note that those are em dashes, not hyphens. There may or may not be a space before and after the dash, depending on style. I do not prefer this punctuation because it makes the "but is not limited to" more parenthetical.
Hi Okaasan,

This includes but is not limited to:
The colon is incorrect here. A colon should be preceded by a complete sentence.

I’m really inclined to agree with you, but the second sentence seems to be correct. As you know, of course, a colon can be used to introduce a list. The second sentence is mentioned more than once with colons on different links (may be the only difference is whether to use a comma or not before ‘but’).

a) On the following link, it’s repeated twice with different punctuation.

b) On this PDF file ( PUNCTUATION GUIDELINES FOR THE CSR EXAMINATION), it is mentioned at the beginning:
This is a guideline on how the CSR examination will be graded. It is not comprehensive as to
all potential punctuation errors. These items include but are not limited to: Periods and Question Marks

c) A similar sentence is found on this link:
Just because you find it on a website doesn't mean it's correct. And there are some companies or publishers that might use different punctuation rules. But when I said that a colon should be preceded by a sentence, I was following Chicago style, which is the most widely used style guide in the humanities and general publishing. I stand by my assertion. YMMV

By the way, no political discussion is allowed on GE. Can you please remove what you posted at the beginning of your answer? If the "window of opportunity" has passed, I'll ask Rachel or Amy to do so. Thanks.
WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: How to Use the Comma— part 1: conjunctions (and, but, etc.)
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including but not limited to

including but not limited to commas

Lawyers often ask why we so commonly see the phrase including but not limited to—or variations such as including without limiting the generality of the foregoing. Doesn’t including itself imply but not limited to? The answer is yes, of course.

But legal drafting isn’t served well by implications, as opposed to explicit denotations. It’s always subject to hostile misreadings by opposing parties who will argue that implications aren’t enough. And courts have been known to accept these arguments, as by holding that including can introduce an exhaustive list—a result that no competent drafter could have intended.

Then there’s the question of verbosity: five words (including but not limited to) or eight words (including without limiting the generality of the foregoing) in place of a single word: including. Verbosity brings down the dark cloud of obscurity over the legal instrument as a whole. Drafters who use these phrases are typically addicted to other, similar pleonasms.

The best simple solution is to define including as meaning “including but not limited to” in every legal instrument in which the word is used—among the housekeeping provisions. Then you rigorously avoid the cumbersome phrasing each time you want to introduce examples. Will judges take such a definition seriously? Generally, yes. I defy anyone to produce a case in which this definition hasn’t worked, so that including defined in this way has nevertheless been held to introduce an exhaustive listing.

Of course, if a judge is going to override an interpretive direction so offhandedly, there’s no help for it. Willful, result-oriented judges who don’t take governing texts seriously cannot be reined in with skillful drafting.

What I’ve outlined here is only a first step—a rudimentary but helpful protocol. Then there’s the matter of ensuring that the genus term preceding including is the right one; that the examples following including are truly useful to a later interpreter of the instrument; and that the entire provision has been written as precisely and readably as possible.

My model provision: “7.5 Definition of ‘including.’ In this contract, including means ‘including but not limited to.’” That’s all you need. Just once. Then search for the word including throughout your long contract to ensure that you’ve met the other standards outlined in the preceding paragraph.

Having taught contract-drafting for more than 25 years to lawyers all over the world—including legal departments at more than 100 major corporations—I know that many straightforward protocols can greatly enhance the skill with which documents are prepared. This LawProse Lesson gives but one simple example.


Further reading:

Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 437-38 (3d ed. 2011).

Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 132-33, 225-33 (2012).


  Related Posts

My choice would be: There are many activities, including, but not limited to, running, jumping and swimming. The comma before including.

Punctuation for the phrase “including but not limited to”

including but not limited to commas

Course Titles

Official names of courses are capitalized, without quotation marks or italics; course number should be listed in parenthesis after the course title:
Ex: Students should register for Advanced Accounting (ACCT-707) for the fall semester.


School names are always capitalized. Lowercase the word school on second reference.
Ex: The School of Mathematical Sciences will arrange speakers for the event. The school will accept reservations.


Department names are never capitalized.
Ex: The department of computer science will hold a seminar on Friday.

Majors, Minors, Immersions

With the obvious exception of proper nouns (e.g., English, German area studies), majors, minors, and immersions are lowercase.


There is no alternative to correct punctuation. Incorrect punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence with the result being an ill-informed reader. Even if the meaning of a sentence is not altered by poor punctuation, it can cause a reader to lose track of what is being said, leading to confusion.


“It’s” vs. “Its,” “Its” vs. “Their,” and Other Possessives

If you are talking about a contraction of the phrase “it is,” use “it’s.” If you are talking about a possessive situation—“the thing belonging to it”—use “its.”

It’s no secret that the university encourages diversity.

Use “it” and “its” when referring to possessive situations involving groups, schools, corporations, etc.; they are entities. Do not use “their.”

The College of Science has increased the number of its (not “their”) faculty. Xerox follows the progress of its (not “their”) co-op students carefully.

Singular possessives and plural possessives confuse a lot of folks. Here are some examples of words in singular possessive, plural, and plural possessive forms.

PossessivePluralPlural Possessive
child’s toychildrenchildren’s toy
boy’s hatsboysboys’ hats
Santa’ nosemany Santasmany Santas’ noses
its owntheir owntheir own


Never, absolutely never, use apostrophes to pluralize (“raining cat’s and dog’s,” etc.). Not even for proper names ending in “s.” In that case, either end the name in “es” or leave it singular as appropriate to the name; usually it’s “es.” (“The Myerses say they love teaching.”) For acronyms, don’t use an apostrophe unless the acronym ends in “S.” (CODs, IOUs, but MS’s, BS’s). When in doubt, consult the Associated Press Stylebook.


Use commas or semicolons to separate items in a series. Which to use? Here’s how to tell: If you have a series of three or more elements that are simple and similar, use commas.

apples, peaches, and pumpkin pie
Joe Smith, Mary Jones, and Susan Stacy received scholarships.

If you are listing many different elements to describe something, and the descriptions are wordy (especially if they also contain internal commas), separate with semicolons.

He is a 2016 graduate of RIT; a renowned illustrator for Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic; and a talented tenor.

If you need to set off individual elements in a long list (such as a series of students’ names and their colleges), use a combination of the two, with a comma following the last item in the series.

Joe Smith, College of Science; Mary Jones, NTID; and Susan Stacy, College of Engineering, received scholarships.

Use an internal comma after the date and year when a specific date is given. Do not use internal commas when a specific date is not given.

On Sept. 28, 2018, we went to Toronto.
In September 2018 we went on vacation.
At 3 p.m., Sept. 28, we will hold a meeting.

Also use commas to separate the elements in addresses and places:

Colleen Clarke is originally from Ithaca, N.Y., but now lives in Hilton.

And use them to set off appositive (nonrestrictive) clauses:

John Doe, senior vice president of Enrollment Management, came to RIT from Eisenhower College.

Ditto for appositive words:

Neil’s wife, Barbara, is a teacher. (Her name is not essential; Neil has only one wife, so the reader knows who is the teacher.)

But restrictive words and phrases do not use commas:

Karen’s son Scott is excited about the Lions this year. (There could be more than one son, and the name is necessary to identify which one is a Lions fan.)

Use commas between the clauses in a compound sentence unless they are very short and closely related. Do not use commas with a compound predicate.

The client asked if the job could be delivered the next day, and the printer jumped out the window.
The student studied all night and took the test in the morning.

Use a comma before “including” and “such as” when followed by a nonrestrictive, nonessential phrase or clause.

The new policy applies to everyone, including faculty.
Some students make silly excuses, such as “My dog ate my homework.”

Do not use a comma when using a phrase like “as well as,” in which the clause is essential and restrictive.

The new policy applies to faculty as well as staff.

Do not use commas after a man’s name if he is a “Jr.,” “Sr.” “II,” “III,” etc.

Wrong: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Right: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wrong: The Mod Squad featured Clarence Williams, III.
Right: The Mod Squad featured Clarence Williams III.

Dashes and Hyphens

Em Dashes (Double Hyphens or Long Dashes)

These often are used to expand or highlight a part of a sentence that appears to be a break in thought or to introduce a clause or insert.

“What you or I need is the right word—fat or thin, brisk or lazy.” Willard Espy

En Dashes

Use the en dash, not the hyphen, for events that continue for a given length of time in calendar listings. In text, use the words “from” and “to.”


Hyphens are used to separate parts of a compound adjective, except those with an “-ly” ending. (Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for the use of hyphenations with “-ly” endings.)

The course is for hard-of-hearing students. But: He is hard of hearing.
It was a shoot-’em-up Western.
Frank Lloyd Wright was a highly regarded architect.

In suspended compounds, hyphens serve as placeholders for the omitted part of the compound:

The course is for full- and part-time students.
CIMS assists small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

Don’t hyphenate compound adjectives when they appear after or apart from the noun they modify or are used as adverbs:

part-time student Julie Jackson
Julie attends RIT part time
Frank Lloyd Wright, the well-known architect
well known as an architect

In words beginning with “co,” retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives, and verbs that indicate occupation or status: co-author, co-chairman, co-owner, co-partner. Use no hyphen in other combinations: coed, coeducation, coequal, coexist, cooperate, cooperative, coordinate. For cooperative education, co-op is acceptable on second reference.

Do not hyphenate Student Alumni Union.

For telephone numbers, See Telephone, Fax, and Email.


Use a single space after a period at the end of a sentence. Don’t use periods at the end of incomplete sentences or lists:

Courses include:

  • Microelectronic Feats
  • Hydroelectricity and Sound
  • Transformer Conversions

Use an ellipsis (…) to indicate omitted words within a sentence or quote. In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and two spaces (that is, leave one regular space on both sides of an ellipsis).

“I’m sure the aftereffects will … be with people for a while,” he said.

If the words that precede an ellipsis constitute a grammatically complete sentence in the original (or if quote is condensed), place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow it with a regular space and an ellipsis:

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address speaks of the need to preserve “… government of the people, by the people and for the people. …”

Quotation Marks and Italics

Use quotation marks for titles of articles; chapters in books; academic papers; radio and TV programs that are not part of a regularly scheduled series; songs; seminars for which the name is descriptive; and workshops. Also use them for comments made by interviewed people, of course.

She thought, “The MTV Video Music Awards” wasn’t as good this year as last.
Snow White sang “Someday My Prince Will Come.”
Don’t you want to go to the “Learning the Internet” seminar?
They hadn’t heard of the “Getting Along with Your Adult Kids” workshop.

Remember to put single quotes inside double quotes when quoting a person quoting someone else or quoting a title of the above:

"Everyone in Belgrade is singing ‘We Live Again,’” he reported.
“My article, ‘The Reproductive Cycle of Female Brown Shrimp in the North Sea,’ will be published soon,” she said.

Use italics (not underlines) for titles of books, magazines, newspapers, TV series, plays, and movies.

Titanic was as over-rated as the ship itself but stayed afloat nevertheless.
Al Pacino was featured in The Insider.
He wants to be published in The New York Times.
Everyone knows that appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated is a jinx.
The line was so long, I could have finished reading War and Peace before I got service.

Punctuation should always appear inside quotation marks, except when using semicolons and colons, and in the case of question marks and exclamation points that apply to the entire sentence, not just the quoted material:

Have you heard the song “Steamroller”?
“I can’t believe they actually sang ‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?’!”


When URLs must be broken at the end of a line of type, break the URL at a slash.



Letter Grades

Plurals of letter grades do not use an apostrophe before the s.

She gave out more As than Bs this semester.

Quotation Marks

Do not use quotations around letter grades.

He earned a B in Introduction to Chemistry.


Parallel structure (also called parallelism) is the repetition of a chosen grammatical form within a sentence. By making each compared item or idea in your sentence follow the same grammatical pattern, you create a parallel construction.


“She likes cooking, jogging, and to read.”


“She likes cooking, jogging, and reading.”

Dates, Times, and Numbers


Lowercase, spelling out numbers less than 10: the first century, the 21st century. For proper names, follow the organization’s practice: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund, Twentieth Century Limited.


Use Arabic figures to indicate decades of history. Use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out. Show plural by adding the letter s: the 1890s, the ’90s, the mid-1930s, the 2000s. See also years.

Days of the Week

Capitalize them, but do not abbreviate except when needed in a tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat (three letters, no periods).


Use numerals to show fractions.

5 1/2, not “five and one-half”
75 3/4, not “75 and three-fourths”


Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.

Fall semester classes will start on Aug. 22, 2016.
December is the busiest month for shopping.
The photo was taken in July 2013.


Spell out numbers one through nine and any number that begins a sentence.

John took six courses during fall semester.
Seventy people showed up for the seminar.
There are 12 months in the year.

Numerals of 1,000 and above use commas in the appropriate places, except for temperatures and years.

RIT has more than 18,000 students.
The boiling point of uranium is 3818°C.
She plans to retire in 2018.


One word. Use numerals when referring to percentages, unless the number is the first word of the sentence; then spell out the number. Repeat percent with each individual figure.

There will be a 7 percent increase in tuition this year.
Seventy-five percent of RIT’s students live on campus.
He said 10 percent to 30 percent of the electorate may not vote.


Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes:

11 a.m.
1 p.m.
3:30 p.m.

There is no space on either side of the hyphen in time spans.

7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
1-3:30 p.m.

When using a.m. or p.m., always lowercase, with periods.

Avoid such redundancies as 10 a.m. this morning, 10 p.m. tonight, or 10 p.m. Monday night. Use 10 a.m. today, 10 p.m. today, or 10 p.m. Monday. The construction 4 o’clock is acceptable, but time listings with a.m. or p.m. are preferred.

Time Sequences

Spell out: 50 hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds. When using the abbreviated form, as in sports statistics or similar agate use, or subsequent references, the form is 2:30:21.65 [hours, minutes, seconds, tenths, hundredths].


Use figures, without commas: 2017. Use commas only with a month and day: Oct. 11, 2015, was a special day. Years are the lone exception to the rule against using numerals to start a sentence. When denoting class years, it is acceptable to use an apostrophe in place of the numerals denoting century: Joe Smith ’16; John Doe ’09. Make sure the apostrophe is facing the correct way.

Telephone, Fax, and Email


Acceptable in all references for electronic mail. But use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-book, e-business, e-commerce. Capitalize the e and the first letter of the word following the hyphen in only two instances: when the word is used as a headline (or part of a headline), or in a name of a course title. Saunders College of Business offers Introduction to E-Commerce.

Telephone numbers

Use figures. Use hyphens between sections of the number, not periods. Do not use parentheses around the area codes. The form is 212-621-1500. For international numbers use 011 (from the United States), the country code, the city code, and the telephone number: 011-44-20-7535-1515. The form for toll-free numbers is 800-111-1000. If extension numbers are needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 212-621-1500, ext. 2.

Proofreader's Marks and Editing Guidelines

(Believe me, we will not cover everything about commas here, but we'll . particularly when the series at hand includes compound elements.

including but not limited to commas
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