On Apr 19, 2010, at 4:18 PM, Uwe Stöhr wrote:
Am 19.04.2010 22:57, schrieb Marshall Feldman:
(By the way in English there is no comma before the "and" if the
after the "and" is the last enumeration in a sentence; like in
"A, B, C and D are letters.")
The following comes from the /Chicago Manual of Style/, 15th ed.,
When a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series, a comma
-- known as the serial or series comma or the Oxford comma -- should
appear before the conjunction. Chicago strongly recommends this
widely practiced usage, blessed by Fowler and other authorities (see
bibliog. 1.2), since it prevents ambiguity.
Here's an example of what the CMS is talking about:
"The meal consisted of soup, salad, and macaroni and cheese."
I was saying the same. In your example there must be a comma before
first "and" because there is a further "and" in the last course.
In your formulas case you have only 3 courses:
would be wrong, because there is only one course behind the "and" and
there is no further "and" inside the last course.
I recently had the same discussion with our English LyX manual proof
reader who's working for a publishing company.
The advice given by the Chicago Manual of Style does not depend on
there being a further "and" in the last course. To reduce the chance
of ambiguity, they recommend inserting the Oxford comma whenever "a
conjunction joins the last two elements in a series." Here's a
humorous example in a book dedication (from wikipedia):
To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
To my parents, Ayn Rand, and God.
But the Oxford comma can also introduce ambiguity:
My mother, Ayn Rand, and God.
In the punctuation world, there's no general agreement on the use of
the Oxford comma, just various organizations going one way of the other.