Global communications in English
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Don’t overuse the &-sign

ampersandThe &-sign — or the ampersand, to give it its proper name — is often used by Dutch speakers to represent and, even in quite formal texts. This is considered bad style in English. The only really acceptable use of & is now in names, provided it forms part of the official name. For example, the names of companies and organisations, such as Marks & Spencer, Tiffany & Co., Procter & Gamble, Barnes & Noble, Standard & Poor’s, Faber & Faber, Johnson & Johnson, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and HM Revenue & Customs; departmental names, such as Research & Development, Sales & Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Training & Development; magazine titles, such as Sky & Telescope, Chemistry & Industry and House & Garden; and newspaper section titles, such as Arts & Theatre, Fashion & Style and Food & Drink. It can also be used in bibliographical references to refer to two co-authors (e.g., Smith & Jones, 2003).

In case you’re wondering, the ampersand was originally a shorthand way of writing the Latin word et (‘and’), and its name is a corruption of the phrase ‘and per se — and’, meaning ”the character ‘&’ by itself means ‘and’”.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

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