Editors of any sort are murky characters. The can take our scary sentences such as,
Let’s eat Mom!
which implies we are ready to eat Mom and make it more civilized with a mere comma.
Let’s eat, Mom!
Here is another example:
- My heart beats true for the red, white and blue.
- My heart beats true for the red, white, and blue.
No doubt you were able to answer right away, depending what you learned in school. But the real answer is: it depends.
The comma before the “and” in the second sentence is known as the serial or Oxford comma. In certain circles, debate can get quite spirited as to whether or not that comma is needed. In her book “Eats, Shoots and Leaves,” author Lynn Truss writes, “There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and people who don’t and I’ll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken.”
Why do some insist that the serial comma must be included for clarity, while others think it does nothing but clutter up text with unnecessary punctuation? How can such a little squiggle cause such an uproar?
The following infographic details where the battle lines have been drawn. Which side are you on?
For a complete list of sources, please view the Infographic below. Click on the image to enlarge.