Re: Proper use of commas in England?

Subject: Re: Proper use of commas in England?
From: Heli Roosild <HeliR -at- MSMAILHQ -dot- NETIMAGE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 1995 16:23:00 PST

At a previous job (with ICL, the UK equivalent of IBM), our US writing group
had to negotiate with our counterpart in England to establish a uniform
usage and style that would make our manuals acceptable in both countries
with minimal localization. We were able to come to agreement on a
surprising number of issues; e.g., they accepted 'z' in words like
"localization" (evidently the London Times does too) while we doubled our Ls
in "cancelled" and "labelled." Some words were obdurate ("licence" comes to

As for the use of the final comma in a series, they did resist at first.
However, after we showed them a number of examples that were ambiguous and
confusing without the final comma, we were able to convince them that it
should become part of our style. I doubt they would have agreed, if its use
really was "totally UNacceptable."

Hope this helps!

Heli L. Roosild
helir -at- msmailhq -dot- netimage -dot- com

To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
Subject: Proper use of commas in England?
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 1995 12:04PM

This question is for anyone with a good knowledge of written English *as it
is used in England*.

In the USA, it is currently acceptable to either include or omit a comma
just before the "and" at the end of a string of named items. For example:

A complete computer package includes a CPU, a keyboard, and a mouse.

A complete computer package includes a CPU, a keyboard and a mouse.

I have been recently told (quite forcefully) that the final comma MUST BE
OMITTED in documentation that is going to be used in England . . . that
such a comma is totally UNacceptable there.

Is this true, or do I just have someone trying to impose his personal
preference on me?

Katherine Pyle
Berkeley, California, USA

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