Monday, April 28, 2008

& [ampersand]

I remember thinking about the ampersand when I worked as a legal proofreader for a summer at Rogers & Wells in Manhattan. Proofreading was a two-person job, with one person reading aloud and the other "holding copy." We sounded all punctuation in abbreviated forms: com, peer, q, sem. The firm's name was always cap rogers amp cap wells. Some law firms used and and some, the ampersand, and they were — and I'm sure still are — picky (if they still exist).

I sometimes ask my students if they know what & is called. They sometimes insist that it's the andpersand — it does, after all, stand for and. But it's the ampersand, really, and Jonathan Hoefler of the type foundry Hoefler & Frere-Jones has a wonderful post about its history: Our Middle Name (Ask H&F-J).

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