In June 2011, Oxford University Press dropped the Oxford Comma from its style manual.
For a quick review, the Oxford Comma is the one used before the “and” in a series. For example: For Christmas, I’d like new towels, a DVD of Sherlock, and a date with Tom Hiddleston.
Now, journalists following the AP Stylebook had already eschewed the Oxford Commas for a long time, unless it was necessary for clarity or legality. There’s the old example about Tom, Dick and Harry inheriting parts of an estate and Tom getting 1/2 while Dick and Harry had to split the other half instead of the three boys each receiving a third, if it had been written as “Tom, Dick, and Harry.”
But then on Tuesday, the Twitter-verse lit up with this example of why resurrecting the old Oxford Comma might be a good idea:
I’m not advocating we bring back the Oxford Comma for good. But this is a great example of how all rules need to flex for clarity’s sake. No writing style manual can be so inflexible that it doesn’t allow a comma to be put back in (or removed) if it helps the sentence.
Meanwhile, The Word Nerds wish the President and Mr. Castro all the best …