The first commentor below is correct: replacing the word "and" or ", and" with
a comma is intended to keep things concise.
Two main uses for ", and" are for linking sentence clauses (comma splices) and
for linking items in lists (series commas).
Replacement of ", and" with a comma is often used in newspaper headlines,
though not typically in the body of news articles. Initially, this was to
conserve space and save money from associated printing and communications costs
(e.g. casting metal slugs, or sending news stories by telegraph). Many other
grammatical changes were introduced for these reasons, such as dropping the
posessive apostrophe in certain cases (see Notes on American Grammar,
http://www.smart.net/~wisdom/mary/grammar.html ) and dropping the comma
before "and" in lists of objects. The latter has been promoted by the
Associated Press (AP stylebook) and the Chicago Manual of style, and has now
become a widely accepted style.
Keeping text concise also addresses reader needs. They may not have the
patience to read long headlines, particularly when skimming many stories in a
newspaper. Keeping headlines down to bare bones helps present the gyst of the
story or entice readers to read the details. David M. Freedman counsels in his
online article, "Advanced Press Release-ology"(
"Your headline (and sometimes a deck, if you need to expand on a more complex
theme) and lead paragraph are keys to the success of the release. You must
compete with dozens of other releases, capture the reader's attention, focus on
the theme, generate interest, and offer a benefit in less than thirty seconds."
Text length may be limited by a predetermined amount of space in a newspaper
for the story.
A note about the Inverted Pyramid style of writing. This writing style simply
states that the most important parts of an article (Who, What, When, Where,
Why, and How) are stated in the first few sentences; the secondary information
follows. It does not explicitly state anything about replacing "and" with a
comma. This writing style is not limited to journalsm, as mentioned by Garbl's
Writing Center ( http://garbl.home.attbi.com/ ). His link on "How to Write News
Releases" ( http://members.home.net/garbl/writing/action.htm ) states
"Basic news writing is built on a writing method called the inverted pyramid.
Journalists use it effectively, but it's also useful for other types of writing-
-from writing for the Web to writing letters to friends and employers to
writing executive summaries in corporate reports. An essential ingredient is a
beginning that grabs the reader immediately because it is interesting,
informative or important."
The second commentor is also correct in mentioning that this style is used in
mathematics, including computer programming and algorithms. Likewise, serial
commas are used without "and" in the interest of keeping things concise.
You might be interested in checking out the following Web sites:
The Tongue Untied - grammar for journalists
Garbl's Writing Center
http://garbl.home.attbi.com/ ( particularly
When to Use Commas
Request for Answer Clarification by
24 Apr 2002 15:40 PDT
This is a comment, rather than a request for further clarification.
Thanks to all respondents for the most interesting answers and references to
style guides. I still remain slightly surprised that the "&" [ampersand]
symbol so soundly beat the comma as a linking device. After all, we use it in
other forms of writing, and it was widely used in printing. Though if you
weighed all the lead saved over the years ... (!)
If anyone's interested and doesn't know, the ampersand symbol is an amalgam of
the latin "et" (= "and"). Printers who used it (according to Brewer's
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable) initally referred to the device thus: "and,
per se, *and*". This was contracted or corrupted to "ampersand".