“What is an Oxford comma,” you ask?
Take a look at this brief, charming TEDEd video to learn more.
After you do that, we’ll talk about whether or not you should use it in your writing, and particularly in your resume.
Why Does the Oxford Comma Matter?
I love this comma. It’s one of my favorite punctuation marks. I actually get a tad unnerved when it’s missing.
Well, because, as outlined in the video, it adds clarity and accuracy to writing, especially when you’re writing a list.
The comma helps prevent ambiguity. It’s reader-centric. Thus, it’s smart and courteous to use it.
There Was a Lawsuit
It could also save you $5 million. Check out this New York Times article about a lawsuit filed by truck drivers for overtime pay that hinged on the use of the Oxford comma.
Although the Oxford University Press stopped insisting on the comma in 2011, it’s still recommended by many U.S. style guides.
Common sense says to use the Oxford comma, also called the serial comma, when it clarifies a sentence’s meaning.
The Oxford Comma in Resumes, Yes or No?
That brings us to resumes.
I use the Oxford comma in resumes because they always include lists.
I like anything that makes it easier for a reader to comprehend a resume.
If you decide to go with the Oxford comma in your resume, use it consistently.
While you could just use it when it adds clarity, resumes represent a special use case where consistency matters.
If you use that final comma before conjunctions (and, or) in some lists and not others, some readers will notice and ding you for “lack of attention to detail.”
You don’t want to distract your readers and have them asking, “Why did this person use a comma before the word “and” at the end of this list but not at the end of this list?”
Rather, you want them deciding to schedule you for an interview!
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Updated February 2021
© 2014 – 2021, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, and Business News Daily.
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