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?