Feminists Discuss More Than Periods

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We discuss commas, too.  

Readers, when listing items in a series, do you use the “serial comma,” aka the comma before the conjunction?  The Chicago Manual of Style says you should.  The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage says you should not.  

Consider these two sentences:

 “The shirts come in blue, yellow, and green.” (Chicago  rule)


“The shirts come in blue, yellow and green.” (New York Times  rule.)

It seems that law review editors allow an author to follow either rule.  Which rule do you follow?  Click below to indicate your comma preferences.  Or use the comments to talk about periods.

-Bridget Crawford

Which rule do you follow?
Chicago Manual of Style
New York Times Manual of Style and Usage
I’ve never heard of a serial comma before now
I didn’t know there was a rule


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0 Responses to Feminists Discuss More Than Periods

  1. Eric says:

    Hmmm, I can’t get the poll to work. But, as a loyal ex-Maroon (though not for law school), I have to follow the Chicago Manual and stick with the Oxford comma (as it is also known). I also prefer the Chicago Law Review style manual to the BlueBook, but I’m pragmatic enough to go with the more popular choice on that one.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    I can’t get the poll to work either so I’ll just tell ya: No Chicago/Oxford rules, no serial/terminal comma and no unnecessary punctuation for me.

  3. I vary – I voted Chicago because that’s what I do most often. It’s what’s accepted at the American schools I’ve attended and on my law journal (the Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice if you’re wondering). However when I write for anything British or international I take it out.

  4. barbara burke says:

    The serial comma should never be used. I see it in legal writing all the time. The reason it should not be used is because it is redundant. The conjunction (and/or) separates the last two words.

  5. Q. Pheevr says:

    I use the serial comma. I am serenely unperturbed by the presence or absence of the serial comma in the writing of others (although I do expect people to be consistent about their choice). What I cannot stand is benighted dogmatism on either side of the argument. This is a matter of arbitrary convention, not a question that can be resolved by reasoning from first principles. In some cases, one style avoids an ambiguity that the other falls into, but neither style has a clear advantage on that score—see http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1759609 for examples. The serial comma is neither always redundant nor always disambiguating; a writer, or a publication, should simply adopt one style or the other, and use it in tranquil consistency, without trying to suggest that users of the opposite style are moral or intellectual inferiors.

  6. JoeSlater says:

    Much as I hate to disagree with posters above, I am a big believer in the serial comma. It prevents ambiguity in some, albeit not all cases. One of the comments in the poll (which worked for me) gave this example of how a missing serial comma might create a misunderstanding in a book dedication: “I would like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”

  7. I always use the serial comma, but I understand that many others don’t like it, and I’m fine with that. What I am not fine with though is an author using it sometimes and not others. Pick an option and go with it and it alone.

  8. Ann Bartow says:

    Okay, JoeSlater has convinced me it should be used sometimes, but now I learn that irritates David. Dang!