RIP Oxford Comma?

An editor at one of  the online writing sites asked me to stop using the Oxford comma in my articles.  He then referred me to the AP Stylebook which advisesagainst it.

At first, I thought it was an “American” thing, but later discovered that journalists do not use it and it goes against punctuation rules in many other languages.

What is the Oxford comma?

Also known as the Harvard comma  and the serial comma, it is the comma that was traditionally  used  by printers, readers, and editors at the Oxford University Press to clarify the meaning of a sentence when listing three or more items.

For example… Harriet visited France, Spain, and Portugal.

The Oxford comma is the comma that precedes “and.” It can also be used to precede “or” and “nor.”

Last year, the University of Oxford Style Guide dropped the Oxford comma.

Here is the official entry:

As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a,b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used–especially when one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’:

Leave out the Oxford comma in this sentence:   Harriet visited France, Spain and Portugal.

But include the Oxford comma in this example:   The two-tone dresses are available in black and white, red and blue, and orange and green.

Any thoughts out there?


4 responses to “RIP Oxford Comma?

  1. I’ve always followed the grammar rule that one NEVER places a comma in front of the conjunction “and”. The conjunction can connect many parts of speeches, nouns, pronouns, verbs etc. or main clauses to form compound sentences or subordinate clauses.

  2. Either is correct, at least in English; it’s only style. You only ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ if you’re writing for a particular publication which has a house style, or some such. Otherwise, as with all matters of style, it’s up to you, though best to be consistent.
    Personally, I like the Oxford comma.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s