Search This Blog

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Editor Joyce Gilmour Wants Serial Comma Reassurance

Serial Comma Question from Editor and Reviewer: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As long as we are talking editing, I have an editor's question for you. What is your stance on the "serial comma"? I've been doing research on it, and I want to hold on to the NEED for the comma which is being dropped all over the place. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

All the best,

Joyce M. Gilmour Editor & Book Reviewer

My answer:

Serial commas are a style choice. Newspapers are using them less and less--or rather they're eliminating the last comma that comes just before the "and." Academia and fine book publishers are still using them. I haven't looked, but I'd guess that the AP Style Book says to eliminate them and Chicago says to include them. Like many things, the rules aren't hard and fast. As an editor--mostly of books--I tend to use them in most things. If you decide to use them, do a search of the word "and" to be sure you've used them in every instance. Once we make a style choice, we should stick to it.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at Learn more about her other authors' aids at, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.
Find me tweeting writers' resources at And please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

1 comment:

Karen Cioffi said...

This is a great topic and one I know I've wondered about. I usually add the comma with the "and."

Now I know it's a toss-up as long as you're consistent.

Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters