Punctuation in UI: the Oxford Comma

The Oxford comma, or serial comma, is the comma that sometimes appears in a list before the last “and”, “or” and so on. It has somehow become a battleground of punctuation, because some people always use it while others never do, and emotions run high.

I recommend letting go of any emotional attachment to the rules. A comma, like any other punctuation mark, is intended to aid comprehension. It should therefore be used where it is helpful, and ignored where it’s not. If a list is very simple there is no need for the comma and it will clutter the view, so it shouldn’t be used: “You can export your file as LIT, AZW and EPUB”. Where the list is more complicated, a comma may be the only way to make it unambiguous: “You can export your file to the ebook formats, PDF, and HTML” (and not “the ebook formats, PDF and HTML”, implying that PDF and HTML are themselves ebook formats).

One thought on “Punctuation in UI: the Oxford Comma

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s