When I was going through grade school, my grandmother was a teacher. She taught history, math, science, and many other subjects in her long career, but most importantly, she taught English. When she retired, she taught me the rules of English. I’m obsessed with English, so much so that I got a minor in English Literature to understand our haphazard language. As I got older, I realized she was teaching me the rules we’re supposed to follow, not the rules that most people actually do follow.
Yeah, I’m talking about the Oxford comma.
You know, when you’re listing items, features, or multiple subjects of any kind in a sentence and you add a comma after the second to last item? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s likely because you haven’t been doing it. The awesome thing is that it’s never too late to start.
The Oxford comma’s inclusion in a sentence serves as protection against all manner of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Without it, sentences can become unclear and confusing. When marketing content is unclear and confusing, you turn people away. Nobody should want that.
The Point of Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about producing written content that attracts people to your website through SEO and makes a sale through its compelling content. It’s not uncommon for web pages and blog posts to attract many people to the site while at the same time having low readability.
This means that your website is good at attracting people, but has little to no retention value. Retention value comes from two things: quality content and readability. Quality content means there is something people want to read. Readability is whether or not something is difficult to read.
If you never use the Oxford comma, your readability might be taking a dip, and if your readability is taking a dip, so is your revenue. If your content marketing isn’t ultimately increasing your revenue, it’s missing the point.
The Importance of Readability
It doesn’t matter how well-written your content is or how interesting your topic is if people struggle to read and understand what you’ve written. The average reading level of adults in the United States is around a 7th to 8th-grade level. So while around 90% of adults have graduated high school, most are not retaining their reading ability. Your marketing is not the place where you should challenge them.
When you don’t pay attention to readability, you’re making it harder for your audience to engage with the content you’re putting out. Unless your brand is closely tied to sports or video games, your target audience does not want to struggle to interact with your brand. Even if you are a sports or video game brand, your audience doesn’t want to struggle with reading about you.
Why Is the Oxford Comma Good?
One of the most underlooked aspects of a sentence is the comma because it’s so small. They subtly tell when you can take a pause and take a breath when reading and separate different ideas in the same sentence. The Oxford comma is the latter in specific instances that happen fairly often. Without it, sentences can quickly become confusing and difficult to understand.
Look at this example originally written for a law firm talking about NDAs:
- With the Oxford comma: “NDAs are also perfect for corporate takeovers, joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions.”
- Without the Oxford comma: “NDAs are also perfect for corporate takeovers, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions.”
For context, mergers and acquisitions fall under common corporate laws. It’s important to make a distinction between when they are being grouped and when they are not. The first example makes it clear that mergers and acquisitions are two separate subjects, but once the Oxford comma is removed, anyone who knows corporate law may be confused. Is this a situation where mergers and acquisitions are treated the same, or not? That’s just a subtle issue, which becomes worse in other instances.
Similar issues happen all the time. It’s common for subjects of a sentence to be linked together because there isn’t an Oxford comma. For content marketing to land, it needs to have the proper grammar that makes its meaning clear, easy to read, and easy to understand. If your content marketing isn’t doing that, we can help.
We’ll Add the Oxford Commas for You
Oxford commas, despite being small, simple, and easy to add, are also incredibly easy to forget about. If you don’t write content regularly, you may not be familiar with all the important grammar rules and options that increase your readability. If this is the case for you, and you’re struggling with your marketing content, you can get help.
The content marketing experts at ENX2 Marketing have been writing every day for years. We know how to write content that draws people in and is easy for them to understand, the perfect combination. Market with the best content you can – contact ENX2 Marketing.