The rule for punctuating dates is similar. You use one comma between the day of the month and the year and another comma after the year. In other words, you normally set off the year with two commas, just as you usually set off the state with two commas. For example:

(a) The first use of videotape on television was on October 23, 1956, on “The Jonathan Winters Show.”

(b) December 25, 1968, was the day when the Apollo 8 astronauts became the first human beings to see the far side of the moon.

The same exception that applies to city and state applies here; in other words, you use no comma after the year if another punctuation mark is used in that position.

Exercise 3.8

Add commas where they are necessary or helpful, according to the guidelines of this chapter.

1. If you ever really want to go to Timbuktu you’ll have to head out for Mali in northwest Africa. Timbuktu which was a famous center for trading in gold was settled by the Tuaregs in 1087.

2. The ice-cream sundae now a classic American treat was supposedly created in a Wisconsin ice-cream parlor and originally it was served only on Sundays.

3. On October 25 1940 Col. B.O. Davis became the first African-American to attain the rank of brigader general in U.S. military history.

4. For concocting the original Coca-Cola in 1886 John Styth Pemberton an Atlanta pharmacist will always be remembered and appreciated.

5. When fireflies light up they send sexual signals to one another. According to the experts male and female fireflies identify themselves and indicate sexual interest by the frequency and intensity of their flashes.

6. King Louis XIV of France who was a ballet dancer from the time he was 13 years old is credited with founding the Royal Ballet Company.

7. A desert rose is not a rose at all. It’s a rock that is made up of fused eroded grains of sand. Desert roses which are “flowers” carved by the elements are not difficult to find in the Sahara.

8. The first person to be called the “father” of his country was Cicero not George Washington.

9. Totally unrelated to either sweets or bread a sweetbread is actually the thymus gland of an animal.

10. The longest heaviest snake in the world is the South American anaconda or python a typical specimen measuring 30 feet or more.