It’s fun, it’s functional and it’s also a bit of a hero in the world of typography! Not only is the ampersand pretty to look at but more importantly, it sits pride of place in probably hundreds of very famous logos! From creatively curly creations to their smart, sleek and stylish sisters, there are no boundaries when styling up this beautiful glyph.
Did you know…
There seems to be a ‘day’ for everything these days and we recently celebrated National Ampersand Day – who knew this little glyph has its very own day! So let’s celebrate its existence with some ‘ampersandy’ facts (this should definitely be a word), that you may or may not already know…
- The ampersand is actually a ligature (a character consisting of two or more letters joined together), where the ‘e and t’ got smooshed together – ‘et’ means ‘and’ in Latin. For instance, you can see the ‘e’ and ‘t’ quite clearly defined in some of the examples above.
- It used to appear in the alphabet – yes really! By the mid 1800s the symbol was widely used in England and became the 27th letter!
- The word ampersand evolved by a process called mondegreen — which happens when a new word comes from the commonly mistaken pronunciation of some other word. British school children in the 1800s would recite the alphabet, finishing with “X, Y, Z, and per se &.” They inserted the “per se” to indicate the ‘&’ was by itself rather than ending the string of letters with a hanging conjunction. As a result, the name ‘ampersand’ was born, all because school children slurred ‘and per se’ – and it stuck!
- It was the only letter of the alphabet at this time that did not represent a speech sound.
- In handwriting the ampersand is written as a backwards 3 with a vertical line marked through it. However, some people do struggle to know how to write it, but when you think of it like this, it’s quite simple really.
- The ampersand can be used to represent ‘and’ in names and phrases but must never be used in sentences – for instance, watch out for when writing copy for client articles!
Ampersand’s time to shine!
Fellow creatives will understand when I say, I’m thrilled if an ‘and’ appears in a company name I’m being asked to create a logo for – oh the plethora typeface choices!!!!!
There are some very famous logos that include an ‘and’ in their company name. In these cases, they’ve showcased the ampersand perfectly in their logo, where it sits (literally), centre stage! Let’s face it, if it’s good enough for Saatchi & Saatchi…
For some reason, Better Homes & Gardens started out life with a written ‘and’ in their logo. They only changed it recently to include the ampersand – how much more stylish does that look?!
To use it or not?
When working on a new logo design at The Wonderland, we would always explore using the written form alongside an ampersand, to see which worked the best, however I’m confident in saying, both ourselves and our clients would almost always opt for the ampersand version! You can make it work for any look and feel – It can be made fun and playful, formal and professional, whimsical and romantic, or posh and polished. In addition, a lot does depend on the colour, scale, typeface and treatment it’s given, that gives the ampersand its character – therefore it’s probably the most versatile symbol out there us creatives can have the most fun with!
I’m obsessed with the ampersand so much so that I have a Pinterest board dedicated to it, where I can scroll through and admire their bold and beautiful brilliance! Here are some of my all-time favourites…
Ampersands get fancy
And here are some very clever creative ampersands that have been taken to another level. It’s the perfect symbol for designers and artists to inject extra personality into some of the more conservative typefaces.
Game for a laugh?
Why don’t you have a bit of fun and see how many times you can substitute ‘and’ in your writing and online posts with the ampersand! For example, you could use words such as ‘h&y, exp& b&s, &roid’ – you’ll really st&out from the rest! You can even have fun with friend’s names, such as Alex&er, &rea, M&y and even Gr&ma and Gr&ad. And if you can make an entire sentence out of words containing ampersands then you have our utmost respect – however, don’t forget to share that with us too, we would love to see it!
We leave you with a few more to figure out…
Go on, ampers& your heart out!
Written by Lynsey