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From Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, Chapter 2, Lesson 2:

In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last

Thus write,

  • red, white, and blue
  • honest, energetic, but headstrong
  • He opened the letter, read it and made a note of its contents.

My question is: Why isn't there a comma after read it in the third example?

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Duplicate (vote to close) - english.stackexchange.com/questions/412 – Adam Mosheh May 16 '12 at 15:53
Ask yourself what a comma would add. – Barrie England May 16 '12 at 15:53
I don't think this is a duplicate at all. I think the question is, "given that the style guide itself dictates there should be a serial comma, why does the third example not include the serial comma?" – D. Patrick May 16 '12 at 16:01
We all know the best place for Strunk and White anyway. – Barrie England May 16 '12 at 16:16
@Caffeine: I'm not sure I can give a polite answer to that. Perhaps you should read this: chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497. – Barrie England May 16 '12 at 20:23
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I believe there is a comma after "read it" in the third example in Strunk and White's Elements of Style. I'm looking for a version of the book that does not include the serial comma in that example but haven't found one.

Revision: I found one. It was a PDF copy of an older edition so I couldn't see the publication date. It appears that there was a typo in some versions where the serial comma was left out. Later prints include the serial comma per the style guide's recommendation.

Sorry, another revision. I forgot to give a link to a current copy: http://www.feedbooks.com/book/3697/the-elements-of-style

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cs.vu.nl/~jms/doc/elos.pdf – Saad Rehman Shah May 16 '12 at 16:01
It's my bad if I have a version that's misprinted. I was just following this book because it's more beautifully typeset than the other version available. – Saad Rehman Shah May 16 '12 at 16:01
Can you refer me to a correct version of it? That I can follow too? A pdf. – Saad Rehman Shah May 16 '12 at 16:03
Yeah. I just edited my answer to include a more recent copy. It's available as epub or pdf and you can get it on your kindle if you have one. Also, it's free. – D. Patrick May 16 '12 at 16:04
+1 Please include file type and file size B with the hyperlink.Thanks so much. – Kris May 16 '12 at 17:41

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