Why I Use the Serial Comma

Erik Wemple sets the context (link added):

It’s a law of human reading nature that our eyes skip ahead on the page, looking for signposts. When lists surface on the page, the reader wants to know right away how exhaustive it is. Serial comma to the rescue.

Mignon Fogarty renders the argument:

Although the serial comma isn’t always necessary, I favor it because often it does add clarity, and I believe in having a simple, consistent style, instead of trying to decide whether you need something on a case-by-case basis. I also think using the serial comma makes even simple lists easier to read.

Addendum (5/9/2015): And don’t forget the New Yorker’s comma queen:

I remain loyal to the serial comma, because it actually does sometimes prevent ambiguity ... It gives starch to the prose, and can be very effective. If a sentence were a picket fence, the serial commas would be posts at regular intervals.

Addendum (9/4/2018): Here’s Richard Lauchman in Punctuation at Work: Simple Principles for Achieving Clarity and Good Style:

The serial comma is always correct and never detracts from the clarity of an expression. The same cannot be said of its omission. You must remember the high standard we impose on ourselves — that the sentence must be not only clear, but clear on the first reading.

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