Grammar Oxford Comma Infographic |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Oxford Comma Infographic

The debate rages on regarding inclusion of the Oxford, or serial, comma. Our Rule 1 of Commas recommends, “To avoid confusion, use commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more.”

We would like to share the below presentation with you for this week’s grammar tip. We apologize for the small size of the type; we could not make it bigger and still fit it into the post. If you find it hard to read, click on the graphic to see it in larger type. This chart does a nice job covering the pros and cons of the Oxford comma. Note their recommendation at the end, “If you’re in the United States, use it . . .”

The Oxford Comma
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If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

12 responses to “Oxford Comma Infographic”

  1. Rebecca F. says:

    As I’ve let you know before, I really enjoy your newsletters, especially the pop quizzes. Would you mind clarifying the explanation on #2 in Commas Quiz 1 for me?

    2. Choose the correct sentence.

    Correct Answer: B While you’re at the store, please pick up milk, bread, eggs, and orange juice.

    Explanation: When starting a sentence with a dependent clause, use a comma after it.

    Your Answer: A While you’re at the store, please pick up milk, bread, eggs and orange juice.

    Thank you.

    • In the current edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and on the website, we have stated a preference for use of the serial, or Oxford, comma.
      Rule 1 -To avoid confusion, use commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more.

      However, we will be issuing an eleventh edition of The Blue Book in February, where we will loosen up a bit, and allow for omission of the serial comma before and as long as you’re consistent in your writing. So, technically, your answer is also correct, especially since we are trying to emphasize the comma after the dependent clause in that particular question.

      Thank you for both your kind words and for pointing this out. We will be making the appropriate changes throughout the website after the new edition is released.

  2. Cheryl Y. says:

    As I was checking out commas, I noticed this:
    Rule 5. Use commas to set off the name, nickname, term of endearment, or title of a person directly addressed.

    The comma that follows the word before “or” is my question. I have been working with curriculum developers, smart people, and I was almost beheaded with this comma placement. Can you shed a little light on this one for me?

    • The last comma in a series before and or or is known as the Oxford or series comma. In our Rule 1 of Commas, we explain why some writers include it and some do not. At we prefer to use it because we are more interested in clear communication than saving one space. We also issued the above grammar tip dedicated to the Oxford comma, which concludes that if you live in the U.S., you should use it unless you are writing for a news outlet that follows AP Style.

  3. Rain says:

    What if there are only 2 elements in a series, but one of the elements contain an internal conjunction. Do we need to use a serial comma in that case? Which of the two options is correct:

    a.) They provide wedding videography and photography, and more.
    b.)They provide wedding videography and photography and more.


  4. Cathy Cooper says:

    What date did we begin putting a comma before the word “and” in a series of three or more? I am 62 and never heard of it.

  5. Gilberto says:

    I am reading a book where the sentence reads, “My conception of the Good encompasses Truth, Justice, Beauty, Love and Serenity.” It has dropped the Oxford comma. But if I understand correctly, this may only be done with and or or, correct? Not any other fanboy such as nor?

  6. Ben says:

    This Oxford comma does not make sense:
    …it should be published in the gazette, or a supplement to the gazette.
    Please clarify the use of it please.

    • says:

      As the post states, an Oxford comma separates words and word groups with a series of three or more. Therefore, a comma is not necessary in your sentence. It is possible that the writer imposed the comma on the sentence to manufacture a pause for perceived clarity. That would be a matter of writer style and preference to achieve one’s intent of meaning outside of established grammatical guidelines.

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