Thursday, April 01, 2010

Would You Use a Serial Comma?

If we were writing these instructions, we would write "Do not attempt to install if drunk, pregnant, or both." This is because we have, of late, become fans of the serial comma.

Long ago, when we worked for a newspaper (remember those?), we were told never to use a comma before the third element in a simple sequence. As we argue in our book, however, it can make writing a bit more clear if it's consistently included.

Anyhoo, we're really only posting this here and going on at length because it's April 1. This has to be a joke, right?

Thanks to Lance for the submission.


Peggy said...

I would indeed use the serial comma (always hated journalistic style for that reason), and if I were drunk and pregnant and had an antenna handy, installing, eating, or throwing the antenna at spouse would probably not even be a thought. But who knows?

Adam said...

This sequence is anything but simple.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Peg and Adam, thanks for the chuckles.

Lance-Robert said...

It's not a joke. Here's the real PDF:

The warning is at the bottom of page 2.

Danielle said...

Perhaps one should not be both pregnant and drunk either.