I usually find "&" in the trade name, say, "John & Company". I do not find "&" being used in sentences. What is the correct rule of usage of "&"? When can "and" be replaced with "&"?

4 Answers 4


It's more of a choice rather than a norm. 23andMe is an example of 'and' instead of '&' in a company name. '&', however, is more common and is more prevalent than 'and'. For a formal usage '&' is widely used:

  1. Business names: e.g. AT&T
  2. Addressing couples: e.g. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  3. Academic papers (when there are multiple authors): e.g. Green, Black & White

Informally, it depends on the user.


Anywhere, but it doesn't exactly help readability. It's great for personal notes, which is what & was made for, but when you want things to be publicly readable, it tends to break the flow. So & is normally used in company names and personal notes, and that's about it.

  • shift- Then why did people use "&" in company names? Company names go public. They are not meant to be of broken flow. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 17:25
  • Well, for one, it's perfectly fine for a name to break the flow, because you want people to notice a name. Just having a & in place of and in the middle of a sentence really makes the & stand out, when it's just a conjunction. But that's more of a reason why it's okay to do it, not a reason to do it in itself. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 17:33
  • In previous times, when most writing around businesses were personal notes of some sort, like meeting minutes and the like, the ampersand was much more widely used, and was even expected to be used instead of and. A few centuries ago, children were taught that there were at least 30 letters in the English alphabet, and the extras were wynne, thorn, eth, and ampersand. We had completely lost the first three by Early Modern English. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 17:40
  • shift - Can a company name use "and' in place of "&"? Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 17:42
  • Sure, that's their choice. I'm not aware of one that does, though. I even just looked through a list of companies looking for one and didn't see one. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 17:50

This is largely a matter of style, rather than of the language itself. Most style guides traditionally frown upon the use of symbols to replace letters and words in formal communication; this goes not only for the ampersand (&), but for the percent sign (%), hash mark (#), and for that matter numerals, at least for smaller numbers. Suffice to say, emoji are right out.

Common guidance is that the ampersand should only be used in names, terms, or titles which are conventionally written with one (e.g. Marks & Spencer, P&G), but not as a generic replacement for and in body text. The Economist style guide is typical:

Ampersands should be used
1. when they are part of the name of a company (eg, AT&T, Pratt & Whitney);
2. for such things as constituencies where two names are linked to form one unit (eg, The rest of Brighouse & Spenborough joins with the Batley part of Batley & Morley to form Batley & Spen. Or The area thus became the Pakistani province of Kashmir and the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir);
3. in R&D and S&L.

APA style says the last two names of authors in a citation may be joined with an ampersand, whereas MLA and CMOS say to write out and. The AP Stylebook even tweeted that ampersands should only be used in a company name or composition title - House & Garden - or in accepted abbreviations: B&B, R&B.


It stands for the Latin "et" ("and"); it is the two letters ("e" and "t") merged into one. It has been in use since 1st Century A.D.

It can be traditionally used in company names, or when one wishes to refer to the joint authorship of a book when quoting it more than once in an essay (i.e. "Duke & Diesel" rather than "Witty But Vulgar, by Archibald Duke and Humphrey Diesel"). One can also use it when taking notes: a poor man's shorthand, so to speak.

It is impolite to use it anywhere else.

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