The Associated Press Stylebook
doesn’t advocate the use of the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma), and neither does the PR department at the University of Oxford.
On Thursday, MediaBistro’s Galley Cat blog
posted an entry from the university’s “branding toolkit
,” which states:
“As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used—especially where one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’ …”
This story, first reported on by Galley Cat
, has inspired several more stories elsewhere and gone viral on Twitter, sparking what The Washington Post
has deemed an Oxford comma death hoax. Oxford University Press responded in a tweet
, saying: “The Oxford comma is alive and well at Oxford University Press.” Yet, it doesn't want its PR pros and internal communicators to use it, per the branding toolkit? Sounds like a case of do as we say, not as we do.
In its song “Oxford Comma,” the band Vampire Weekend poses the question: “Who gives a f*** about the Oxford comma?” Not Oxford PR pros.
(Here's that song. There's an F-bomb, so depending on where you work it might be unsafe.)