How to use the ampersand.

the ampersand in all its glory

The ampersand is often called the “and mark” by people less nerdy than me, but it is universally recognized as meaning “and”. That being said, there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. 

Generally speaking, do not use the ampersand in the body of text to mean “and” or in formal writing. 

X Send a copy of these documents to the HR department & the legal department.

O Send a copy of these documents to the HR department and the legal department.


Many businesses like AT&T and TV shows like Law & Order use “&” in their names, either because of tradition, to make the name shorter, or because it looks good. 

Some other examples of companies are AT&T, H&M, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Smith & Wesson, Ben & Jerry’s, etc. 


The ampersand is occasionlly used in abbreviations such as R&B (rythm and blues), R&D (research and development), P&L (profit and loss), B&B (bed and breakfast). Note that these days “B&B” is often written “BNB” as in “AirBNB.” 

Text Messages

Pretty much anything goes in casual texts. However, if you are texting for work, on Slack for example, take care not to overuse symbols like the ampersand or emojis as they can be a bit annoying and can make your meaning less clear. 


The ampersand is also used in programming languages, mathmatics, and in some formal writing, like research papers, the ampersand can be used to write citations such as (Jones & Titus, 2024).

Take Care
Not all styleguides agree on how to write citations. If you are writing legal documents or research papers, check with your company or teachers to be sure you are using the correct style. 

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