Thursday, June 14, 2007

Commas in a series

Today’s tip is a little strange – I’m going to clarify the difference between a rule that I learned in school and one I have learned in AP style (used online).

We always learned that in a series of three objects or more, you’re supposed to use commas like so:

I like to eat cookies, cake, and ice cream.

In this example a comma follows both of the first two items. AP style, however, does not use the last comma (the comma right before the ‘and’).

He likes to eat pizza, wings and fries.

I have to admit that, in this case, I hate AP style. I still follow the first example in most of my writing, creative or academic, as that is what I have been doing since elementary school. However, if it is going to be published online, follow AP style.

Another difference between what they beat into our brains in school and what I learned copy editing for an online magazine is the number of spaces that go between one sentence and the next. In school we learned that after a period you ALWAYS use two spaces. However, online writers (and those that simply are putting something online) should only use one space after a period. It’s strange to me, but that’s what is correct.

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