In Which I Cave to Oxford Comma Pressure

By May 21, 2012Communications, Media

I was never an Oxford comma person. It always seemed superfluous to me, and my history as a public relations professional, which required writing according to A.P. Style, ensured that I was Oxford-comma free.

And then there was this:

. . . and a family dinner in which my adult son and his fiancé, my husband, and my 15-year-old daughter all ganged up on me and made the case for the Oxford comma. They were convincing.

In addition, this year, I started working with Rusty. He’s an Oxford comma guy. And unless I want to spend all my time editing out commas, I think I just need to move on and accept it.

Where do you stand in the Oxford comma argument?



  • Jen on the Edge says:

    I am very much an Oxford comma person and I refuse to give it up.

  • msprolesmartin says:

    I’m with @Jen on the Edge  here – and I did my best to teach a whole slew of students to use it as well. It may seem superfluous at times, but as your stripper cartoon illustrates, it provides a lot of clarity. One of the medical journals I currently edit has recently decided NOT to use the Oxford comma and I’m trying to make a case for its return.

  • MollieCoxBryan says:

    I’m with you. In my training as a journalist, we we told to never used it. (BTW, I think that really comes from the old tradition of setting type. They left it off because it was a pain to set one more comma.) But through the years, working as an editor, and with other editors who knew a lot more about the language, I caved. I much prefer it now. But ultimately it depends on the publisher style. Some use it and some don’t. My job as a writer is to give them what they want to make therr jobs a bit easier.

  • TriciaTraugott says:

    I find the Oxford comma redundant. In fact, after working as a copy editor for our school newspaper many moons ago, I would always strike it in red. I’m just glad that nobody is critiquing my comma or exclamation point usage when I write my blog. I tend to overuse but not in the OC manner.

  • carolineemerson says:

     @Marijean  @Jen on the Edge @MollieCoxBryan  I am definitely an Oxford comma fan, but not everyone in my office agrees, so editing battles continue. Keeps things interesting.

  • NickGilham says:

    I am an Oxford Comma fan, but am forcing myself to remove it from my writing. I feel that I need to conform to AP style, whether I like it or not.

  • michellegolden says:

    I’m a fan of doing whatever clarifies meaning for the reader. The Oxford comma does. AP doesn’t rule my world, clarity does. 🙂

  • Marijean says:

     @michellegolden Absolutely!

  • nicksargent says:

    AP at least gives you flexibility in the case cited above, unlike the unrelenting Oxford comma. Plus a good writer in this situation should probably call out  to readers that Stalin and JFK are working the pole in this story and phrase the line this way: “We invited the strippers: JFK and Stalin.”That’s AP Style, BTW.  

  • LindaKolker says:

    I agree with Michelle. After reading “Eats Shoots and Leaves,” I decided that clarity is the deciding factor. Sometimes Oxford style bogs the text down. But I have clients who insist on AP, so I use it for them. I use PerfectIt as a Word add-on, and you can create a custom stylesheet with specifications, though it works well for me as shipped.