Today is officially National Ampersand Day, so let’s celebrate and pay tribute to this funny little symbol! And as the official National Ampersand logo says, “fabulous & functional & fun”!
First a little history lesson. The symbol “&” comes from the Latin word for “and” which was “et”. In Old Roman cursive, it became common to combine e’s and t’s, which eventually morphed into today’s common symbol “&”.
The ampersand used to appear as a letter at the end of the English alphabet. When the English alphabet was spoken, “per se” commonly preceded any letter of the alphabet that could be used as a word by itself, such as “A” and “I”. For the letter/word “I”, for example, the phrase was “I per se I”, which means “I by itself is the word I.” Thus “& per say and” became “ampersand”.
We often see “&” in daily communications, but when should we use “&” instead of “and”?
- Use & when it is part of a company’s formal name – such as AT&T or Ben & Jerry’s.
- Use & for common abbreviations – such as B&B or R&B.
- Use & in writing when space is limited – such as in PowerPoint presentations, booth graphics or in logo designs.
- Use &, if you prefer, in informal communications – such as tweets or texts – but avoid it in formal writing.
To celebrate the day, check out this website that is dedicated to all things ampersand – https://amperart.com/gallery/.
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