Serial comma legal writing and research

What’s All the Fuss Over A Serial Comma?

This law does not apply to the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, distribution or packing for shipment of: The investor asked for separate reports on the performance of her investments in real estate, commodities, coins and stocks and bonds.

I would like to thank Mother Teresa, the Pope and my parents. Making a habit of using the serial comma is probably worthwhile, because when you need it, you really need it. Making a habit of using the serial comma is probably worthwhile, because when you need it, you really need it.

Various interpretations of a comma in the Second Amendment of the U.

Serial comma

Legally speaking, yes it does. Had there been a comma after the word shipment, it might have been clear that the law meant to exempt the distribution of perishable foods. Craig Hoffman, associate dean for strategic initiatives and professor of U.

They went with Betty to Oregon with a maid and a cook. In Britain some authorities oppose its use, although others especially the Oxford University Press do recommend it. The lack of a comma suggested one meaning, while the omission of the conjunction or before "packing" and the fact that the Maine Legislative Drafting Manual advised against use of the serial comma suggested another.

Lawyers for the truck drivers argued that their work, the distribution of goods, was subject to overtime pay from Oakhurst Dairy, but the packing for shipment or the packing for distribution was not.

Fowler, Karen Elizabeth Gordon and the Chicago Manual of Style 2 clamor for ubiquitous serial commas, especially in legal writing where ambiguity is anathema.

Resolving ambiguity[ edit ] The style that always uses the serial comma may be less likely to result in ambiguity. But in the age of informal writing via texting, social media, and email, does grammar really matter for quality legal writing anymore. Be written in complete sentences, preferably in active voice Have subjects and verbs that agree with one another Use the correct tense Correctly use commas and other forms of punctuation Read more: Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found in favor of the drivers, stating that the absence of a comma in the statute produced enough uncertainty to rule in their favor.

Writers can avoid the common source of grammatical confusion represented by the dairy company case by following this simple rule: So in this case neither the serial-comma style nor the no-serial-comma style resolves the ambiguity.

My heroes are JFK, Stalin and the strippers. These forms among others would remove the ambiguity: Constitution have influenced court decisions on gun laws, as was the case in District of Columbia v. Use of the comma is consistent with conventional practice.

In Australia, Canada, and South Africa, the serial comma tends not to be used in non-academic publications unless its absence produces ambiguity.

In the end, the California legislature changed the law to cover instances like that. Sn, K, Na, and Li lines are invisible. Two people They went to Oregon with Betty a maid and a cook.

The Oxford comma is what separates us from the animals. Arguments for and against[ edit ] Common arguments for consistent use of the serial comma: Casement 1 K.

The entire opinion turned on a particular usage of the comma, that being, in a series of items joined by a conjunction.

Don’t write wrong: $10 million lawsuit decided over missing serial comma Posted by One Legal on March 24, in General, Quick skills. Good grammar – following the rules for commas, punctuation, and sentence structure – is considered by many to be essential for effective writing.

Don’t write wrong: $10 million lawsuit decided over missing serial comma

In legal writing, we use a full set of commas for items or phrases in a series. We do not omit the comma before the conjunction.

"The court hears arguments, pleas, and. Review some of APA style's guidelines on scholarly writing for topics such as abbreviations, active versus passive voice, anthropomorphism, capitalization, numbers, and more.

Other APA Guidelines Serial Commas Other APA Guidelines: Serial Commas Print Page Report a broken A serial comma simply means that a comma.

The Oxford Comma and Other Punctuation Issues

A serial comma simply means that a comma will separate each element in a series of three or more, even before the coordinating conjunctions and and before following are simple examples of serial commas.

Because precision is essential in legal writing, you should always use the serial comma. You’ll never offend anyone by using it and, in the legal world, a single comma can be worth a million dollars.

Abstract. Professor Abrams authors a column, Writing it Right, in the Journal of the Missouri Bar. In a variety of contexts, the column stresses the fundamentals of quality legal writing - conciseness, precision, simplicity, and clarity.

Serial comma legal writing and research
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APA Style Blog: Using Serial Commas