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In my recent project, playing with responsive web design, I've noticed that ampersand in my text landed at the beginning of a line with certain page widths. I personally find it a bit ugly...

I can put a non-breaking space between the word and ampersand to fix this.

Is there a typographic rule about ampersand placement with regards to beginning and end of line?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Text should not contain an ampersand at all unless it's a brand such as
Procter & Gamble or Johnson & Johnson.

Ampersands within sentences are just poor, or at the very least lazy, grammar.

If the ampersand is indeed part of a brand, I would not break the brand on separate lines if at all possible.

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This is the generally rule for professional writing, though IMO there's some leeway in terms of article titles and other display text (I think it's consistent with ampersands being a stylistic choice in branding). –  Lèse majesté Feb 8 '13 at 10:55
Relevant but doesn't quite answer the question: If your text contains "Stock prices for Arthur Somebrand & Sons Robotic Supplies Technology dropped sharply following the news", where preventing the whole brand name breaking isn't an option, and where fluid widths limit type control, should the text be set up (e.g. in html as Somebrand & Sons) so that it's impossible for the ampersand to start a line? –  user568458 Feb 8 '13 at 12:33
@user568458 Yes, that is exactly how I would handle it. –  Lauren Ipsum Feb 8 '13 at 17:37
I would actually handle it via SomeBrand & Sons. As I posted in the answer (which I thought was relevant), I would try and avoid breaking the brand if possible. But that's my opinion. –  Scott Feb 8 '13 at 23:41

Regardless of @Scott's answer about the etiquette of avoiding ampersands in body text alltogther, there is a typographic recommendation to place connector words like "and" or "or" at the end of the line, not at the beginning of the new line. This helps to better connect the previous line to the next.


is preferable to


The same logic justifies also placing the ampersand at the end of the line. With an typographic element even more so this is a good practice, as a line starting with a symbol is less good for readability.


is preferable to


You can also test this by reading the first two sentences and leaving a conscious pause at the line break (where the eye of the reader has to find the next line). You'll notice that the "and" before the pause is more plausible than to end the line, pause, and start reading the new line with "and ...".

Obviously, those rules are not set in stone and always require context sensitive treatment. For example, you would avoid orphans (that is the typographc term of stubs of one or two words on a new line), like this:


So all in all, my recommendation is, try avoid using the ampersand in body text, also try avoid splitting terms or names connected by an ampersand, and in if nothing else, at least keep the ampersand at the end of the line.

EDIT 10.02.2015: It's been bothering me for a rather long time that I could not actually find any references for those recommendations, and I was starting to wonder if those were based merely on personal impression/preference.

I have since found a reference in a book which I consider an authoritative reference work (in German language only, I am afraid) called "Detailtypographie", of which one author, Ralf de Jong is a professor of typography.

On page 189:

Im Trennungsfall kommt es [Et-Zeichen, &] auf die neue Zeile

My free translation: In case of line breaks it is set on the new line.

With this example

Der aktuelle Prosekt der Firma Hulesche 
& Quenzel

This refutes my original answer, but I leave the crossed-through original visible for transparency. @Ryan's comment might very well be the proper reasoning.

In summary, I do think breaking a name with ampersand should still be avoided by all means, and if intentional, like in a logo design or similar, the debate will be highly case specific. Should it need to be broken across two lines in text or headline, I'd stick to the recommendation given in the quoted book and put it on the new line.

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This is all true, though in the context of the web, we often have to let flexibility (ie, responsiveness) trump exact typographic rules of thumbs. –  DA01 May 16 '13 at 19:19
True, yet you can still set breaking point suggestions and nobrs that influence the typography in a reasonable manner. –  kontur May 17 '13 at 4:28
I don't at all agree with this. We always put the connector at the start of the next line so that the reader can understand instantly the connection to the previous line. Do you have a reference for this so-called "Typographic recommendation?" –  Ryan May 17 '13 at 11:30
Headline line breaks are a world unto themselves. I remember reading a WSJ article whose headline was printed over two lines: "Motorists despise mandates/like costly fuel additives", and only after I read the article did I realize that "like" was a preposition rather than a verb. –  supercat Jun 16 '14 at 19:17
@Ryan Thanks for challenging my answer; see the edit (a mere 2 years later, but nonetheless ;D). –  kontur Feb 10 at 10:39

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