Serial Comma - Usage - Style Guides Opposing Mandatory Use

Style Guides Opposing Mandatory Use

The Times style manual
Avoid the so-called Oxford comma; say "he ate bread, butter and jam" rather than "he ate bread, butter, and jam".
The New York Times stylebook
In general, do not use a comma before and or or in a series: The snow stalled cars, buses and trains.
The Economist style manual
Do not put a comma before and at the end of a sequence of items unless one of the items includes another and. Thus 'The doctor suggested an aspirin, half a grapefruit and a cup of broth. But he ordered scrambled eggs, whisky and soda, and a selection from the trolley.'
The AP Stylebook
Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry.

Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.
The Australian Government Publishing Service's Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers
A comma is used before and, or, or etc. in a list when its omission might either give rise to ambiguity or cause the last word or phrase to be construed with a preposition in the preceding phrase: "There were many expeditions, including those of Sturt, Mitchell, Burke and Wills, and Darling." "The long days at work, the nights of intense study, and inadequate food eventually caused them serious health problems." "The sea, the perfume of wisteria, or a summer lunch: any of these revived memories of an easier time." "We needed to know how to get there, what time to get there, the number of participants, etc." Generally, however, a comma is not used before and, or or etc. in a list: "John, Warren and Peter came to dinner." "Fruit, vegetables or cereals may be substituted." "Why not hire your skis, boots, overpants etc.?"
The Guardian Style Guide
A comma before the final "and" in lists: straightforward ones (he ate ham, eggs and chips) do not need one, but sometimes it can help the reader (he ate cereal, kippers, bacon, eggs, toast and marmalade, and tea), and sometimes it is essential:

compare
I dedicate this book to my parents, Martin Amis, and JK Rowling

with

I dedicate this book to my parents, Martin Amis and JK Rowling
University of Oxford Public Affairs Directorate Writing and Style Guide
Note that there is generally no comma between the penultimate item and ‘and’/‘or’ – this is sometimes referred to as the ‘Oxford comma’. However, it is essential to use an Oxford comma if required to prevent ambiguity:

He took French, Spanish, and Maths A-levels.

I ate fish and chips, bread and jam, and ice cream.

(icons as original)
The Cambridge Guide to English Usage
In British practice there's an Oxford/Cambridge divide … In Canada and Australia the serial comma is recommended only to prevent ambiguity or misreading.

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