Posted by: episystechpubs | February 12, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Comma Drama, continued

Good afternoon! I hope you enjoyed your break from commas with Donna’s excellent adventures in hyphenation. That’s what we’re all about here—having fun and living the dream!

Here is a brief rule that causes all kinds of commotion. The rule is to use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series. Some say the second comma isn’t necessary; others argue its necessity. This comma has several names: the serial comma, the Oxford comma, and the Harvard comma. No matter what you call it, it is required according to a rule in the Jack Henry Corporate Style Guide.

Here are a few examples:

· We visited Athens, Hydra, and Santorini on our summer vacation.

· My favorite names for a boy dog are Spartacus, Tobias, and Bob.

· Mr. Finley said he would fix the lock, repair the kitchen window, and check the water heater.

· Everyone on the block claimed that Cecil, who had the kindest parents, who had the best education, and who made the most money, was the saddest person they’d ever met.

And here is my favorite example of how not using it can change the meaning of a sentence:

“Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.” (Merle Haggard)

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor


  1. […] Well, you’ve certainly heard from me about the Oxford comma (aka the serial comma). One of the first articles I wrote was about six years ago, “No Comma Drama.” A couple of years after that, I continued to fight, this time in “Comma Drama.” […]

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