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?


1 Answer 1


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

  • cs.vu.nl/~jms/doc/elos.pdf May 16, 2012 at 16:01
  • 2
    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. May 16, 2012 at 16:01
  • Can you refer me to a correct version of it? That I can follow too? A pdf. May 16, 2012 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, 2012 at 16:04
  • +1 Please include file type and file size B with the hyperlink.Thanks so much.
    – Kris
    May 16, 2012 at 17:41

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