Commas: They're Not Just For English Majors Anymore.
Getting Started
Here's the first key idea:

Learn to justify each comma you use.

Everything in this site is based on this principle. The approach is two-part:

  • First, during the draft stage, read your sentences aloud, or at least slowly enough so that an audience could understand you easily. As you read, place commas where you think they go - trust your instincts. Admit it - that's probably what you do now, anyway. And don't think you'll avoid comma errors by avoiding using commas altogether. For this exercise, go ahead and put the commas where you "hear" them.
  • The second part - and this is the part we're here to learn - is that you go back while proofreading and JUSTIFY every single comma you used, according to rules you know (or are about to learn).

  • If you know the reasons to use commas and can't think of a reason a comma SHOULD be there, then it's probably best to leave it out.

    this site's official disclaimer!:

    This approach will not cover every single situation, but it should help you in most cases.

    This tutorial will work best of you have the printable handout in front of you. If you have one, follow along.  If not, print it out (if possible) and come back here.

    next (IE)

    IE: Introductory Elements

    CE: Contrasting Elements

    2IC: Two Independent Clauses

    CA: Compound or Coordinate Adjectives

    NRE: Non-Restrictive Elements

    A Few Other Situations (quotations, lists, etc.)