My parents, Batman and Robin raised me to be frugal.
238 words on the Oxford comma — in which I reference Elf, Spinal Tap, Culture Club, a regional wine ad from the 1980s and Cool Hand Luke (as referenced by Guns ‘N’ Roses). Enjoy.
Sure, they’re millionaires, but how do you think they got so rich? Nothing goes to waste in the Batcave. And that includes commas.
The Oxford comma -— A.K.A. serial comma, Harvard comma or hacker’s comma — appears before the and (or or) in a list of three or more. It’s one of a few times the English language says, “Fuck it, do whatever you want.”
I don’t like it any more than you. I’d rather be 100% right or wrong than declare war every time I list shit. But here we are. So I’m going to come right flat out and tell you:
I don’t use the Oxford comma, and I don’t care who knows it.
I’m a designer. I write headlines. In the 1% of cases where an Oxford comma adds clarity, I’ll use it or rewrite the sentence. But I’m not a zealot. If you’re an OC fan,
I won’t yuck your yum.
But OC fans are like Zappa fans: super smart, techie/mathish types who’re aware other people feel differently, but those other people are wrong.
Me, I’ve got bigger grammatical fish to fry. I dangle the fuck out of participles. I use passive voice aggressively. And I’ve never met an em dash I didn’t want to take home and jam in a sentence.
So until English picks a lane, consider me a serial (comma) killer.