Cereal Comma

Congratulations!

You’ve found one of the very few Oxford Commas on tarynwilliford.com.

I recognize that it’s necessary to use a serial comma in some constructions, such as for clarity or when the clauses of the series are lengthy. But in general, I’m anti-serial comma. It comes from my years in journalism school; I still subscribe to the minutiae of the AP Stylebook.

For every pro-Oxford example of political strippers, there’s another where the extra comma causes even more confusion:

“Those at the ceremony were the commodore, the fleet captain, the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Jones.”

This example is from the New York Herald Tribune’s 1934 style book, as quoted in a Mental Floss article. With the comma, it reads as if Mr. Smith was the donor of the cup, which he was not. Checkmate, Oxonians!