Re: Items in a Series and Comma Use?

Subject: Re: Items in a Series and Comma Use?
From: "Fred Ridder" <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 11:57:30 -0500

Respectfully, I would suggest that the issue is not how former
journalist Al Geist reads sentences that omit the serial comma,
but whether _your_readers_ understand the correct meaning
of what _you_ write. As others have said, the serial comma can
eliminate potential ambiguity among readers, and since nobody
has ever claimed that it causes any miscomprehension I see no
reason to omit it. Yes, you might cause a handful of hidebound
readers to bristle at your inclusion of one tiny and presumably
unnecessary bit of punctuation, but your meaning will not be
misunderstood or misinterpreted.

My opinions only; I don't speak for Intel.
Fred Ridder
Parsippany, NJ

From: Al Geist <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: Items in a Series and Comma Use?
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 11:26:39 -0500

Julie Stickler wrote:

The best argument I heard for including the final comma was a story
told by an instructor I had when I was getting my techical writing
certificate. She frequently would end up with an extra drink when the
menu said that the meal came with "cofee, tea or juice." because she
would point out to the management that the way the menu was punctuated
indicated to her that the meal came with a "coffee" and "tea or juice"
(rather than a single drink).

I read the sentence as coffee or tea or juice....your choice of one from the three. If she frequently ended up with an extra drink, then the problem was with her and not the sentence.


Al Geist, Geist Associates
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Cell: 505-400-4128
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Re: Items in a Series and Comma Use?: From: Al Geist

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