The use of punctuation with adverbial clauses is still unclear, particularly when they follow the main clause. The aim of the paper is to reflect on this issue focusing on present-day Italian, and especially on newspapers and non-fiction writing. Firstly, we consider what is stated by the norm, dating back to the late 19th century, when the functions of punctuation in Italian stabilise in the modern orientation. Secondly, we conduct an extensive corpus-based analysis focused paradigmatically on causal, concessive and time subordinate clauses. On the basis of qualitative and quantitative data we can observe that in contemporary writing the insertion of punctuation before adverbial clauses tends to respond to a clear communicative principle: the comma is used when main and subordinate clauses are autonomous on an informational-textual level and is omitted when the two clauses form a compact informational whole.