The Oxford comma

I always use the “Oxford comma!”

The “Oxford comma” is the final comma in a series:

In class today, we discussed “Hansel and Gretel,” combined sentences, worked on sentence paragraph focus and did an exercise on misplaced modifiers.
[NO COMMA AFTER ‘PARAGRAPH FOCUS’]

versus:

In class today, we discussed “Hansel and Gretel,” combined sentences, worked on sentence paragraph focus, and did an exercise on misplaced modifiers.
[COMMA AFTER ‘PARAGRAPH FOCUS’]

Without Oxford comma:
This book is dedicated to my roommates, Nicole Kidman and God.

Oxford comma:
This book is dedicated to my roommates, Nicole Kidman, and God.

A panda walks into a bar

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

‘Well, I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’

Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. New York: Gotham, 2006. Print ISBN-10: 1592402038 ISBN-13: 978-1592402038

Update 2/22/2012: Visual aid for the “Oxford comma” from Language Log