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Why you need to stop using ampersands all the damn time
Mar 16, 2019
2 minutes read

The ampersand (&) is a funny little thing. While it seems like a fancy and smart piece of punctuation, it’s actually only to be used in informal writing. Even then, it shouldn’t be relied on much.

The misunderstanding people have is that the ampersand is interchangeable with the word “and”. It’s super not.

Where would you use an ampersand? Generally, you wouldn’t use it in any formal text. The only times you should is when it’s part of a proper noun, like AT&T, or in rare situations where you need to show close relation.

For example, Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit are currently touring across North America. That’s all fine and dandy, but look what I did when mentioning them in OttawaStart.com’s 2019 Bluesfest rumours and speculation post:

“Some announcements were already made earlier. Organizers confirmed Backstreet Boys will be performing this year, as well as Eric Church, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, and Colter Wall.” (Emphasis added.)

I used an ampersand. That’s because if I just used the word “and”, I’d have a hard time showing that Isbell and the absolute unit go together. I needed to show collaboration, so I broke the glass and grabbed an ampersand.

(I won’t link to the article because then you’ll see an unrelated and highly embarrassing ampersand mistake I let through. Even though I own the site I sometimes wonder if I’m worthy to be published in such a highly respected city blog.)

Other than that, the only time you’d need it is in design work where it’s a style element, or you’re making a graphic where space is limited.

Yup, the ampersand sure has it good. Real estate on the keyboard but not much need to work.

UPDATE: Don’t miss this essential addendum…


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