In Praise of Ampersands (the logogram &)

And… what?

Today, we’re celebrating the ampersand, better known as the logogram &. The ampersand has nothing to do with sand, but everything to do with and. Indeed, it represents the conjunction “and” by being a swirling mass of artistic excellence. Some people may use “+” instead of &, but these people are mentally unstable and should not be be trusted.

This little beauty can be traced back to 1st century AD, when the Romans sometimes joined E and T (phone home) together to form ET. Over the centuries, this evolved into what we now know and love: &. However, writing the ampersand itself is a tricky business – in some countries, one must have a degree and be aided by trained ampersand professionals in order to complete its complex arches without suffering a fatal injury. Indeed.


How does one know when to use an &? Well, you don’t tend to just throw them about with wild abandon. You need to think it through carefully – should one go in your headline? Should you just use a normal “and”? Why is all of this so confusing? Don’t fret, dear reader, you just go with whatever one you want. Except in normal copy, as that would be weird. Ampersands are for headlines online. And business names.

If you stop for a moment and try to actually draw the symbol, though, you’ll find it bloody hard work. Unless you’ve got some serious artistic genius behind you, all those snaking curves and points are difficult to remember. Thusly, we’ve stolen someone else’s video of them drawing one, so you can go off and get this perfected.

Of course, what does “and” even mean? It’s a conjunction, fool, which joins together words, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, and letters. Without “and” you’d probably not be able to hold a conversation. You’d have to do a mime, or something, until the other person got the idea of what you’re getting at.

One of the best ways to use “and” is to end every sentence you say with “and so forth…” and stick that ellipsis in at the end to look extra cool. Of course, when you say “and” in conversation, people don’t know if you were intending to use the & version instead of it, so perhaps say “ampersand” rather than “and” to clear up any confusion. For example, “Ampersand so forth…” etc. Is that clear? Good. Now, go forth and ampersand.


Have some gibberish to dispense with?

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