“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 discuss whether or not you should use it in your writing, particularly in your resume.
Why Does the Oxford Comma Matter?
I love this comma. It’s one of my favorite punctuation marks. I get a tad unnerved when it’s missing.
As outlined in the video, it adds clarity and accuracy to writing, especially when writing a list.
The comma helps prevent ambiguity. It’s reader-centric. Thus, it’s smart and courteous to use it.
Plus, people who read resumes don’t like to be confused. If they have to work hard to understand your resume, they like you a little or a lot less. That decreases their motivation to interview you.
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. It hinged on the use of a comma.
Is It Required?
The Oxford University Press stopped insisting on the comma in 2011. Fortunately, many U.S. style guides still recommend it.
My take? 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.
Use it consistently if you decide to go with the Oxford comma in your resume.
If you don’t, some readers will notice and ding you for “lack of attention to detail.”
You don’t want to distract your readers.
Instead, you want them to decide to schedule you for an interview!
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Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
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I’m a member of the Oxford Comma fan club.
This reminded me of the tag line:
“Let’s eat, Grandpa.”
“Let’s eat Grandpa.”
COMMAS SAVE LIVES. USE THEM.
Thanks so much for posting this!
I am one of the avid (no pun intended) supporters. I insert it everywhere that it’s missing, and scratch my head and wonder WHY it’s missing.
It just seems like common sense to me that, if using it can help avoid confusion, then why NOT use it?
This video was great.
And as David Ayer just noted on Twitter (watch the video folks!):
“Let’s leave it up to my parents, Ayn Rand and God Almighty.”
Thank you Eric. Donna
I am applying for medial relations and content development positions. I prefer using oxford commas; yet, for my cover letters I feel compelled to omit them as this is AP style used by media professionals. Thoughts?
I’d go with AP style because it’s the preferred practice in your field.
BTW, Adrienne, my guess is that AP style is driven more by space constraints in narrow newspaper columns than by an interest in clarity. Every character matters when you have extreme space constraints.