Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Encore: AP users ‘free’ of this comma

By · Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

This post originally was published July 4, 2011.
The Oxford comma still gets people talking.

The flag is red, white and blue.

The flag is red, white and blue.

Social media has been a-Twitter over the mistaken notion that Oxford University would be doing away with the serial comma — use of a comma before the word “and” in a series.

No matter to anyone who follows The Associated Press style, which does not use a comma before “and” in a series.

The memory aid journalists use is from the example in the AP Stylebook: The flag is red, white and blue.

As we celebrate Independence Day today, here are a couple of more appropriate examples of AP’s comma style before the conjunction “and” and “or” in a simple series.

From the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Enscription on the tombstone of Matilda Joslyn Gage, who pursued liberty for all people:

“There is a word sweeter than mother, home or heaven – that word is Liberty!”

You can read more about Gage in an essay published in The (Syracuse) Post-Standard today by Sally Roesch Wagner, Ph.D., executive director of The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, N.Y.

Wishing you a safe, happy and meaningful Fourth of July.

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