Is the Serial Comma a Serial Crime? Or Is the Crime the Lack Thereof?

As a grammar lover (and a fan of creating fun office debates), I must admit that I have given this much thought.  Personally, I dislike the serial comma, I find it unnecessary, and I tend to rid sentences of it while proofing.  However, it seems that the target audience may be the determiner of whether or not the serial comma is a serial crime.

The Chicago Manual of Style, whose audience tends to be mostly academic, suggests the usage of the serial comma; whereas, the Associated Press, followed by a more journalistic audience, tends to favor not using this punctuation.  So does the audience determine the usage?  If so, where does that leave us with blogs, social media and website content?  Are we academic or journalistic – does it depend on the type of blog we are writing?  Maybe we are technical?  What do we do with that serial comma?

1 Comment

  1. I prefer the use of the serial comma, as I feel it distributes the connection between the items being listed more equitably. I know that there are certain style manuals that say otherwise, as well as “house” styles that set their own parameters. The ultimate goal is clear communication – if the absence of the comma before the conjunction makes the sentence unclear, then it should be included for the sake of clarity. If a client insists on being grammatically incorrect, though, then I would defer to the one who’s signing the checks.

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