Using punctuation marks like commas can be a piece of cake for some, but it can also be really challenging for others.
This task becomes way more complex and confusing when we talk about addresses.
These days, many people are baffled about how to use a comma after a city and state correctly.
So, where exactly do we put that notorious comma?
Let’s get right into it.
When does a comma come after a city and state?
A comma must always come after the city name and the state name when both entities are written in the middle of the sentence. As a default rule, a comma should always be used to separate the city from the state, but no comma should come after the state name that is followed by a zip code.
Using commas after a city and a state: Regular address format
Although using commas in addresses can be a bit tricky at times, doing so is not really that hard – if you know the rules.
Like your birth name, your address is one of the very first things you learn as a child. This simply proves how crucial this piece of information is.
A person’s complete address could be hard to remember at times, especially if it includes a lot of details. These details include what we technically call “address lines 1, 2, and 3.”
What you need to put when a form asks for “address line 1” is simply your “street address” which includes your civic or building number and street name.
Meanwhile, when a form asks for “address line 2,” you should write down the specific number of your building unit as well as any other particular locative information.
Your second line of address may include your apartment, room, or suite number or your lot, block, or phase number.
If you combine address lines 1 and 2, here’s what you might write down:
Address Line 2: Suite 505
As you may figure, your address line 3 includes your city, state, and zip or postal code. Your country name may also be optionally written down here for international transactions.
Combining your first, second, and third lines of address, here’s what you’d get:
Address Line 2: Apt. 4B
Address Line 3: Westfield MI 40784
If you’ve been wondering why there are no commas in the above examples, this is because that’s the format recommended by the main postal service provider in the USA or the USPS.
You may have to refer to USPS guidelines when sending out mail or parcel to or within the USA, so knowing how to label an envelope properly is also suggested.
Since you’ve already seen the basics of how to write a complete address, let us now proceed to the nuances of comma placement.
The information below should make your comma decisions more goal-oriented.
Comma after city and state in an address (general style)
As a general rule, there is only one comma needed after a city and state in an address written in block format.
This comma goes between the city name and the state name. Take note that no comma goes between the state name and the postal code.
For easier referencing, only address lines 1 and 3 are shown in the next example since address line 2 is also optional.
La Motte, IA 52054
When sending mail within the USA, abbreviating the state name and leaving out the country name is not a problem at all.
However, in other formal writing circumstances, using abbreviations is not recommended to avoid ambiguous messages and misinterpretation.
In case you also wish to include your address line 2 in your address, feel free to either put it right after or beside the street name.
When choosing to write this way, a comma should be used to separate the street name and the building unit number.
Also, there’s no need for a comma after the apartment number anymore in the next example, and no comma should be used between the state abbreviation and zip code.
Houston, TX 7702
3.2 Comma after city and state in an address (AP style)
The Associated Press style does recommend using a comma between the city and state too. However, it does not suggest using abbreviated state names in most cases.
The AP authorities only suggest using abbreviated state name formats when found in a table; these abbreviations should also adhere to their recommended formats.
This means this is how you should write an address in AP style:
Tacoma, Washington 98402
For state names appearing in tables, some examples of acceptable abbreviations are “Ala.” for “Alabama,” “Conn.” for “Connecticut,” and “Kan.” for “Kansas.”
Meanwhile, “Maine,” “Idaho, “Texas,” “Hawaii,” “Iowa,” ” “Ohio,” “Alaska,” and “Utah” should not be abbreviated.
Comma after city and state in an address (Chicago style)
The CMOS, CMS, or Chicago Manual of Style suggests placing a comma after the city name but not after the state name when a zip code follows.
This also means a comma should be placed before the city name when the address is written in a horizontal format, such as in the next example.
When writing the address vertically, the comma after the street name may be conveniently dropped for legibility reasons.
San Diego, CA 92103 USA
When a zip code does not follow the state name, however, the CMOS suggests writing down the complete name of the state rather than its abbreviated form.
By doing so, ambiguous information can be avoided.
Using commas after a city and a state: Sentence format
Apart from writing addresses in a block or horizontal format, we may also need to write them down as parts of a sentence.
When a city and state become part of a sentence or running text, certain punctuation rules need to be considered too.
Remember that this rule is also highly relevant to placing a comma before a “time zone” that is written as a part of a sentence.
If this comma rule is yet unknown or confusing to you, please feel free to visit our previous post that discusses this topic in utmost detail.
4.1 Comma after city and state in a sentence (general style)
As a rule of thumb, a comma goes after the city name as well as after the state name when an address is written as part of a sentence.
If the sentence still needs to continue after the state name, a comma should be used after the state too as a default rule.
Note, by the way, that another rule of thumb is to avoid abbreviating the state name unless a zip code is used after it.
For readability reasons, the complete state name rather than the abbreviated form should always be used when there is no zip code after it.
The rules change, though, when the state is followed by a zip code because the comma needs to be placed after the zip code – if and only if it is found midsentence.
Apparently, it is also possible to write the complete name with the state together with the zip code if one wishes to as that would even make things clearer for readers.
Meanwhile, as you may already figure, no comma should be found after any final address entity if it is found at the tail end of the sentence.
Certain rules also govern the comma placement before a country name in the world of texts. So, don’t hesitate to read more on this topic for a more comprehensive understanding.
Comma after city and state in a sentence (AP style)
According to the Associated Press, a comma should also be used between the city and the state name when used in a sentence.
Also, a comma should be found after the state name when the sentence needs to continue after it.
To make things simpler, think of the state name as an interruptive and descriptive thought that acts as an additional piece of information that enriches the meaning of the sentence.
This idea should help you understand why a comma should be placed after the state name when it is used in the middle of the sentence.
The sentence above is essentially the same as this: Baltimore, Maryland is known for its long history.
Comma after city and state in a sentence (Chicago style)
The Chicago Manual of Style also suggests the same comma placement rule after a city and a state name used within a sentence.
This means that a comma should always separate the city name from the state name, and the comma after the state name should adhere to whatever rule the sentence structure dictates.
The style guide also suggests placing a comma after the state name if and when the sentence continues afterward.
For more specific addresses written as part of a sentence, the recommended comma placement can be seen below:
Remember that no comma should come before the civic or street number in the example above, which is “1516.”
Also, take note that the comma before “whenever” in the example above is prompted by the recommended comma placement after the zip code.
Without the address information, no comma should come before “whenever” as it introduces a dependent clause in the last example.
Therefore, the sentence would read as:
Frequently Asked Questions on “Comma After City and State”
Is there a comma between the state and country?
In running texts, a comma should be placed between the state and the country such as in the following: We are planning to move to Ohio, USA, next year. A comma should also be used after the country name if the sentence continues after it.
Do you put a comma between the state and zip code?
No comma should be placed between the state and the zip code no matter whether in an address written in block or part-of-a-sentence format. For example, we should write down: They used to live at 4327 Michael St., Houston, TX 77006.
Do we need a comma after a year in a sentence?
A comma is needed after a year if and when the sentence continues after it. For example, we should write down the following: He was born on August 10, 1993, at dawn.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.