Posted by: episystechpubs | November 13, 2014

Nifty Nuggets: The Serial Comma

Hi folks. Jackie has asked me to temporarily assume Nifty Nugget duty. I thought we’d start with a simple punctuation rule that causes a lot of confusion and controversy.

Today’s topic is the serial comma, which is also known as the Oxford comma. But don’t let its name intimidate you; this is an easy comma to figure out how to use.

Use the serial comma at the end of a list or series, just before the final conjunction (examples of conjunctions are and, but, and or). Here are a few examples with the serial comma and the conjunction highlighted.

· My favorite animals are dogs, elephants, and anacondas.

· I have to vacuum my car, wipe off the dashboard, clean out the trunk, and wash the windows before my mom will ride in it.

· You can buy candy by the piece, by the bag, or by the pound.

There are differing opinions about whether or not to use this comma. Some folks argue that it’s not necessary. However, most grammarians and most style guides opt to use it because it often eliminates ambiguity. Our JHA Style Guide clearly states: “In a series of three or more items, always use a comma to separate all elements.”

Be on the right side of the law. Use the serial comma.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Technical Editor, Adv. | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

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