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Ampersand Punctuation Rules

Updated on March 3, 2014

The Ampersand Punctuation Rules

The ampersand (&) represents the word "and" and it is used when you need an (even) shorter form. It is a beautiful symbol and one that has been around for a long time.

It's meaning is clear and it's forms are cool but you cannot use it whenever you feel like; you should use the ampersand only under these circumstances:

The Ampersand in the Corporate World

The ampersand usually appears in the name of companies, to join the names of their owners or other important words in a series.

But it is never used for Federal Government agencies names.


  • Procter & Gamble
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • AT&T

Federal Government Agencies:

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms


Corporate names in Magazines and Publications

The “&” on company names is completely the choice of the company; you must always check how it is written, don’t assume all companies use the ampersand instead of and”.

You must use whatever they use in their legal name and company documents.

However, specialized magazines that include many company names in their publications (business, technology, engineering, etc.) may chose to write down all the company names with an “&” (preferred) or an “and”.

They do it to avoid possible mistakes and to give consistency to their texts.

General Interest magazines don't have to print too many names and usually use both "&" and "and" depending on the companies real names.

The Ampersand's History

Ampersands in Abreviations

Ampersands are used in abbreviations, like these:

P&G: Procter & Gamble

R&D: Research and Development

R&B: Rhythm and Blues

What you need to remember is that even when most publications and style guides like better that you don’t leave any spaces; it is not carved in stone.

You will find spaces in these abbreviations from time to time, because that’s the way the publication likes it, or because the owner of the abbreviations prefer it that way (i.e. a company name abbreviation).

Etc. even shorter!

Since "&" is really a ligature of the word "et", which in latin means "and". and et cetera comes from the same root meaning "and other things". You can use &c. as etc.

Hollywood Credits

When you see an ampersand between the names of writers in the credits for stories and screenplays it means there were two writers working together in the script.

When you read two names separated by an "and" it means two authors worked on the scripts at different times, sometimes one rewriting what the other did, but they did not collaborate.


Words that Belong Together

You can use the ampersand when the words are related so much that it is evident they belong together:

  • Rock & Roll
  • Rhythm & Blues
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Dungeons & Dragons

Never use an & in the text!

The ampersand can be very handy when jotting quick notes, but you shouldn’t use it inside a text to substitute the word “and”.

Never ever use an ampersand instead of "and" in any serious piece of writing; and by serious writing I mean anything that may be read by others, such as academic papers, articles, homework, etc.

Of course, this sounds counterintuitive because we just said that business, music, books and games names CAN have an ampersand as we already explained above.

Don't worry, those words are not that many or that hard to remember and If you still have doubts use the word "and".

More Ampersand Resources:


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    • CandyTale profile image

      Gabriela Hdez 3 years ago from Valencia, Spain


      Thanks for sharing!

    • CandyTale profile image

      Gabriela Hdez 3 years ago from Valencia, Spain


      Neither do I! (knew about that factoid about Hollywood scripts). As you say, you never know when you need to surprise someone with curious facts.

      I learned a lot writing this Hub.

      Thanks for your kind comment!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      This is a subject that I never gave much thought to. Nice to know. sharing.

    • JessBraz profile image

      JessBraz 3 years ago from Canada

      I really enjoyed this Hub. :) I love the ampersand. I think it just looks so pretty in text. :)

      I never new that if writer's names in the credits use an "&" it means they collaborated, but if they used "and" they worked on it at different times! That's such a cool little factoid. :) I love having odd little pieces of information like that. You just never know when you might be able to impress someone with your random knowledge. lol

      Voted up!