Q. I’m not sure when to use a comma following a date at the beginning of a sentence. Can you help? For example, “In the 1960s, McManus declared victory . . .” or “In 1967, McManus selected Jones as the victor . . .” A fellow editor suggests striking all of the commas that follow the dates. 

Q. Is the serial/Oxford comma generally used in British English? If the guidelines do not specify anything, what would be the appropriate usage?

Q. It’s my observation that increasingly, in a sentence like this, the commas are being omitted, no matter how many sisters there are: “I wanted to go to the store, but my sister Sara refused.” Can’t we just admit that it’s cleaner and easier to omit them most of the time, unless there’s genuinely a clarity issue? The world is changing; can we make this official? Thank you.

Q. In the following sentence, is a comma necessary after the word “was”? Her reply was “No, but I’ll think about it.”

Q. I belong to an editing group. In these two sentences, we believe the commas belong. Is there a name/description for this or a rule you can direct us to? “It’s what makes a barn, a barn.” “Whatever will be, will be.” That comma.

Q. Help! Here’s the problematic sentence:

Her efforts, along with the generosity of the Hearts and Art Ball Host Committee, Live Auction cochairs Joe Smith and Jane Smith, the Friends of the Museum, and our beloved patrons, have made this signature event possible.

I’m being told by a higher-up to remove the comma before “along with” and the comma after “patrons” because, in her words, “along is a preposition.” I think the commas (or better perhaps, em dashes) need to be there, but I can’t explain why. Can you give me a leg to stand on? Rewriting is not an option.

Q. When you start a sentence with so should it be followed by a comma? Example: So, let’s write one.

Q. Is it ever appropriate to elide a conjunction between two parts of a compound predicate and use a comma (for example, “He walked to the door, opened it.”)? I notice that many of the fiction authors I edit do this frequently.

Q. I’ve written a number of technical user manuals. I would always write, “Perform step 1a, then do step 1b.” But then the Microsoft style guide stated that I should always write, “Perform step 1a, and then do step 1b.” I prefer the former and think it’s perfectly OK. What sayest thou?

Q. We are publishing plays, and the dialogue is sometimes written to convey sound as well as sense. The playwright has “August 25th, 1989.” Is there any guideline preventing us from including the comma after the ordinal?