When to use a Comma Before 'Including'

Place a comma before "including" when introducing an example (or a series of examples) to illustrate what has been recently said.

Place a comma before "including" when introducing a list of examples to illustrate what has been recently said.

I love many Asian countries, including Vietnam, Laos, and Japan.

I love many Asian countries including Vietnam, Laos, and Japan.

Omit a comma before including to convey that what follows define or restricts the main part of the sentence.

To apply for the job, you must submit a résumé including your language skills.

To apply for the job, you must submit a résumé, including your language skills.

"Including your language skills" restricts or defines the type of résumé you need; it is not just an example.

The comma rules for "such as" and "including" are basically the same.

1. Placing a Comma Before 'Including'

The introductory word including is typically used to express that what follows is an instance (or are several instances) of what has been said. In this case, including is preceded, but not followed, by a comma.

Rising inflation is impacting a range of areas, including food and energy.

Rising inflation is impacting a range of areas including, food and energy.

Note that if we leave out "food and energy", the meaning of the sentence remains intact. In the example above, including just introduces a list of examples or instances.

If the list of terms that follows "including" is placed in the middle of a sentence, you must add another comma after the list.

Ten people, including two children and six women, were injured in the accident.

Ten people, including two children and six women were injured in the accident.

In sentences like these, for example and including are synonyms. The use of commas before and after "for example", however, is slightly different.

2. 'Including' Without a Comma

Look at this sentence:

I chose the project including the contingency plan.

If you remove "including the contingency plan" from the sentence, the meaning changes completely. In other words, you cannot separate the "including" part without changing the meaning. This is why we do not separate "the project" and "including" with a comma.

Therefore, omit the comma if "including" introduces a group of words that are required to identify the main word (or words) of the sentence.

Images including inappropriate content will be removed.

The example above shows that you need to mention "inappropriate content" to identify the type of images the writer is referring to. We are not talking about examples of something in this case.

3. More Examples

The following examples show the use of a comma before "including" to introduce a list of items or add extra information.

  • Many Italian dishes, including pizza and pasta, are among the most consumed foods in the world.
  • I had to prepare many documents to go to Vietnam, including a visa and a passport.
  • Twelve doctors, including two cardiologists, five dermatologists, and three surgeons, attended the symposium.
  • I need you to go to the grocery store and buy some food, including rice, pasta, and olive oil.
  • Sarah met many interesting people, including novelists, scientists, and engineers.
  • I love a broad range of music styles, including hip-hop, house, and dance music.
  • Rebecca has traveled to many African countries, including Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia.

These sentences show the use of "including", without a comma, to restrict or determine the meaning of the sentence.

  • Images including inappropriate content are not allowed.
  • Dishes including spicy ingredients can cause digestive problems.
  • The office required an application including the income level.
  • My boss only wants financial reports including charts and graphs.
  • A clinical record including blood test results was required by the hospital.
  • Please follow community standards and avoid uploading images including nudity.

4. Conclusion

You can follow this strategy to decide whether to place a comma before "including" in a sentence:

  1. Add a comma before including to introduce a list of examples that illustrate your statement.
  2. Avoid using a comma when the words that follow including are restrictive or essential to understand the meaning of the sentence.
  3. Another way to determine if a comma is needed is to mentally replace the word "including" by "for example". If the result still makes sense, add a comma before including.
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