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AP Stylebook: No ampersand (&)

First of all, for people who don’t know, an ampersand is this doohickey: &.

It’s a cute, fancy-looking symbol meaning “and,” but it’s not something you want to use in most sentences. The exception is if you are referring to the proper title of a business like, “Johnson & Johnson.” The ampersand is used in “Johnson & Johnson” because it is part of the trademarked, official name of the business. That name is the company’s brand, and it is “branded” on all of its products.

Here’s The Associated Press Stylebook rule for the ampersand:

“Use the ampersand when it is part of a company’s formal name or composition title: House & Garden, Procter & Gamble, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. The ampersand should not otherwise be used in place of and, except for some accepted abbreviations: B&B, R&B.”

(By the way, only use “B&B” and “R&B” on second reference, as per AP.)

Also, here are some ampersand examples for you to consider:

This is the wrong way to use the ampersand:

“Our twin toddlers, Jack & Jill, poured orange juice & spaghetti on their hair, so we are now washing their hair with Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo.”

And this is the right way to use the ampersand:

“Our twin toddlers, Jack and Jill, poured orange juice and spaghetti on their hair, so we are now washing their hair with Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo.”

Whether you own a small business or a large corporation, don’t use the ampersand willy-nilly. Using any symbol any old time you feel like it means your content is not consistent, which diminishes the credibility of your website or blog – and in turn, diminishes the credibility of your business. You can still be cute or fancy (or both) in your writing if that fits your business culture, but, as moms of toddlers often say: “Use your words.”

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