The serial comma is a much-debated punctuation mark. Often called the “Oxford” comma, it’s the comma before a conjunction (“and” or “or”) in a list of three or more words or phrases. One, two, and three. Red, white, and blue. Burger, fries, and a drink.
There are two schools of thought on the serial comma. While some feel it isn’t necessary (think minimalism), the rationale in favor of the serial comma is that it promotes clarity. See this Daily Writing Tips blog for an array of opinions and examples. (5-minute read)
We all know writers on both sides of this debate. Let’s agree to accept our differences.
Above all, be consistent. Make your approach to the serial comma part of your editorial style guide so all writers and editors who work with you follow the same rules. It’s clear, simple, and smart.