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I found the following information from an Internet research:

"A comma is used before etc. when it follows more than one listed item, for example, rivers, lakes, streams, etc. (comma used) but rivers etc. (no comma used)."

However, there is another view on this:
"The abbreviation etc., even if only a single term comes before it, is always preceded by a comma."

I'm scratching my head -- How would we put a comma before "etc."?

Original Post
Use a comma before 'etc.' You might use one after 'etc.' too if 'etc.' is not the final element of the sentence.

From the Chicago*:

“Etc.” and “and so forth”

  • The abbreviation etc. (et cetera, literally “and others of the same kind”) is traditionally both preceded and followed by a comma when it is the final item in a series.

    Such English equivalents as and so forth, and the like, are usually treated the same way. (The use of etc. in formal prose is frowned on, though it is acceptable in lists and tables and within parentheses. When used, it should not be italicized.)

    As far as I know, 'etc.' should not be used after one item. That would be similar to saying 'whatever.'

    If you have only one item, say something like, 'There are bodies of waters such as rivers which are clean and clear.'
    *The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition. The University of Chicago Press 2003
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