Friday, September 26, 2008

Punctuation Man Endorses Serial Comma

Yes! Finally, it's settled. Oxford wins out over AP, because Punctuation Man has endorsed the serial comma.

And it is just. Using a serial comma buys you clarity. Omitting the serial comma buys you a drop of ink on a printed document or one less byte in a word processing document. Which is more important when you're trying to communicate an idea?


Anonymous said...

Really, the punctuation outside of quotes is more important.

"Hello?" should be correct showing that you are keeping the original context of the question, as opposed to "Hello"?

Who's ? is that? Mine or the speakers?



CC said...

I totally agree. Quotes should be used to quote the punctuation too. If it's inside the quotes, it was punctuation in the source. If it's outside the quotes, it's punctuation from the outside context.

Unfortunately, the whole "putting the punctuation inside the quotes" thing is pretty entrenched. I don't see it changing anytime soon, although I think we're getting a lot of pressure against it now that we have more uses that requires exact quoting. For instance, if I write: Your password is "password." is unclear whether your password has a period at the end. The need for exactness, because we are entering stuff into computers now, may help break down this sort of problem.

Personally, I've taken to, in all but the most formal of documents, putting punctuation outside-of-context outside of the quote marks. Anyone else who cares about this should join me.

Maybe we can get Punctuation Man to weigh in on this one.