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Current Tip: Ampersand &

We see it often in letters, emails, texts, tweets, memos, and notes. This mark is appealing because it helps save character space and looks casual, but how does it fit in formal writing?

The Associated Press Stylebook advises using the ampersand when it is part of a company’s formal name or composition title: Barnes & Noble, Procter & Gamble, Ben & Jerry’s. Otherwise, the ampersand should not replace the word and. The Chicago Manual of Style concurs with the AP on that point, but also allows that “either and or & may be used in a publisher’s name,”: Harper and Row or Harper & Row.

Here are a few other acceptable uses:
• Inside graphics or document tables
• In some accepted abbreviations such as AT&T, R&D, P&ID
• In common shorthand expressions such as rock & roll
• In addresses, for example, Mr. & Mrs. Johnson, Dr. Smith & Mrs. Brown

If you find yourself hesitant, just remember to use the ampersand sparingly and, in case of doubt, check your stylebook.