nert's picture

Okay, entirely subjective question here: I was recently wandering through the extra ampersands in the Poetica family - of which there seem to be too many for my feeble brain - and just wondered - what's everyone's favourite ampersand? Is it the most beautiful? Functional? Unobtrusive? Personally (Poetica aside) I must be a sole defender of Rotis here in saying I quite like that face's one.


twistedintellect's picture

The original Caslon Italic is a classic, and the one I most often fall back on. So simple, yet so elegant…

Florian Hardwig's picture

Have you been to Ampersandland?
And get a copy of SIGNA Nº 2: Das Et-Zeichen (in German)!

The ampersand wiki entry has a link to an article on its progression by Max Caflisch.

Typophile Conor & David have made a great ampersand poster.

An older thread, same topic. And another one.

Not necessarily my favourite one, but I quite like Antiqua English’s ampersand as it says “tea is being served” with a perfect British butler’s accent:

You wanna have an ampersand while your client/employer/editor insists on a vulgar ‘+’? Go with best of both worlds and Trump Mediaeval!

… while Diavlo’s & is a nice idea, but I don’t think it really works. Looks more like an alien diacritic to me:

eliason's picture

Hoefler Text Italic's is interesting.

James Arboghast's picture

There's nothing wrong with the ampersand in Rotis, unless winding back the clock and de-atrophicizing atrophied letterforms by restoring them to their form of origin can be considered a crime. Probably because they look fancy, a lot of typographers evidently prefer the more familiar atrophied ampersand form to its ancestor ligature.

Ampersand started out as a ligature of E and t, and was progressively twisted, flowed, redesigned into what I term an "atrophied" letterform.

Verdana's ampersand takes the same route as Rotis': a cursive capital E wedded to a t spells "Et", ancient Latin for "and".

Most of the fonts I have made contain the much older ligature form. One unreleased work has a selection of four, two of them using a lower case e, one of which is caps-height. Yes, of course it's easier to draw than the other kind of ampersand. But it's much more honest and less time-mottled.

j a m e s

ryanholmes's picture

I recently came across the ampersand in FF Olsen--w/o question, the ugliest example I've ever seen. Yuk!

James Arboghast's picture

...what’s everyone’s favourite ampersand?

I don't really have a favourite ampersand.

I recently came across the ampersand in FF Olsen—w/o question, the ugliest example I’ve ever seen. Yuk!

Maybe you've just abreacting because you're seeing it for the first time? Olsen's ampersand is different, yes, but does that make it ugly?

Intolerance is an ugly thing too.

j a m e s

Don McCahill's picture

Okay, perhaps not ugly. But envision the discussion with the customer:

What's that.

An ampersand.

No it isn't.

Well, it is what that font thinks it is an ampersand.

Well, it's ugly.

No, it's just that you are intolerant.

Why you little ...

James Arboghast's picture

Don, terms like "intolerance" I reserve for discussions at typophile, principally because of all people involved with type, designers and typographers can least afford to be intolerant. If a client objected to the ampersand in question on the grounds they think it looks ugly, that's their prerogative. They are entitled to their opinion as they are paying for consultation. I would not challenge or object to such a view. Only a fool would tell the client they are intolerant.

This isn't a discussion with a client. This is typophile.

I don't mind as long as somebody else is paying.

j a m e s

eliason's picture

Here's the Hoefler Text Italic ampersand I mentioned:

I like that you can see the "et," yet the overall massing resembles the more familiar figure-8-/treble-clef-type ampersand.

pattyfab's picture

I second Caslon Italic. My all time fave. I am not a fan of the "et"

Some more threads on the subject

Jan's picture

American Typewriter alternate.

JCSalomon's picture

Do the various forms have names?

BTW, I've recently taken to using a wide-nib fountain pen, and the ampersands that feel most natural to draw are similar to Minion Italic's or Palatino Italic's.


Nick Shinn's picture

The end papers of Indie Fonts 3 show a great many ampersands, all from fonts featured in the book.
James Grieshaber was the book's designer.

James Arboghast's picture

These are a few of my favorite ampersand things.

j a m e s

Linda Cunningham's picture

I'll second Monotype Corsiva -- I've used it a lot in very diverse places but it has never seemed out of place.

James Arboghast's picture

Thanks for the link Jan. :^)

Mmm, Corsiva's is charming. Linda do you like the Cataneo or the Baskerville?

j a m e s

loremipsum's picture

"what’s everyone’s favourite ampersand? Is it the most beautiful?"


Linda Cunningham's picture

ROFL! In fact, I like all of the ones you posted -- they each have their charms, don't they? ;-)

That being said, I think using such exciting and personable characters can sometimes be a crapshoot. Something's that has been discussed rather frequently here (and that I am obsessively adamant about in classes I teach) is knowing the "rules" before trying to successfully break 'em.

Quick example: the last newletter I used the Monotype Corsiva ampersand in was otherwise set overwhelmingly in ITC Tiepolo with Optima as subheads. When I switched over the template from PageMaker to InD, I turfed that ampersand, and had many complaints that it "didn't look 'right'."

Needless to say, it was promptly reinserted in the next edition. :-)

James Arboghast's picture

A crapshoot it can be for sure :) I once used the Fell pica italic unit on a huge billboard, with a picture on the left, ampersand in the middle, brand name on the right, equals sign, and the word "bliss" at the end. A kind of word and image puzzle. The client loved it, but when my boss saw it he flipped, "Are you fugging nuts? What's that  t h i n g  in the middle supposed to be? Don't ever do that again!"

Ah well, I got a good laugh out of it. Told them, "In this business the only available rules are those of the gunfighter." In the sense that ads are so often hit or miss affairs. You just can't predict how people will react.

j a m e s

writingdesigning's picture

loremipsum, what is that 'W&Q' example?

Reminds me of one of the more memorable ampersands in corporate identity: the one on the Old Ogilvy&Mather (O&M) logo.

Talking of ampersands and corporate identity, a rather interesting example was the france telecom logo:

cuttlefish's picture

Maybe not favorite ampersands, but at least I can take the blame for all of these.
Damn, I really need to diversify my styles.

Quincunx's picture

I like most of the ampersands of Auto. The last one doesn't look too good when it's on its own, but when it's accompanied by other characters, it is just fine. I especially like the ampersands of the Smallcaps and that of Auto 2 Italic.

Ehague's picture

Greta Text Italic

eliason's picture

What I dislike are ampersands in which the big diagonal stroke changes arc directions a few times. (This is Bell:)

I appreciate the intention -- that the stroke bows out to accommodate the bottom counter -- but that kind of stroke has always struck my eye as ungraceful (particularly bothersome in a glyph that, as this thread's examples have shown, is often the height of graceful design).

Bendy's picture

Agreed, that bend always looks odd.
My favourite is Dante Bold Italic

dizerr's picture

I enjoy the ampersands in the Affair typeface from Veer. I used it on my wedding invitations and they just compliment it so well.

paul d hunt's picture

I really love a good wood type ampersand, here are a couple:

Frode Bo Helland's picture

This one is also very beautiful:

It's Stilla.

marcus sterz's picture

hi everyone,

a question occurred while designing a book.
in a small text like this, which use of the ampersand is correct?

© 2003, Laurent Mignonneau &
Christa Sommerer

© 2003, Laurent Mignonneau
& Christa Sommerer

thx for answering.


Florian Hardwig's picture

Hi Marcus,

Detailtypografie says: “Im Trennungsfalle kommt es auf die neue Zeile”. Thus, B.

PCARTER's picture

Here's a pretty rad ampersand letterpress bcard set a buddy of mine did:


patrick carter design

hrant's picture

Very tasteful card.


Diane, you used Affair on your wedding invitation?! :-)


One of my most favorite ampersands is the one in Triplex Italic.
It's an "E"+"t" without at all looking archaic.


CanwllCorfe's picture

Baskerville italic, Goudy italic, and Caslon italic. Notice a pattern? :P I also really like American Typewriter's.

quadibloc's picture

The trouble with the ampersand in FF Olsen, in addition to the mere novelty, is that it juxtaposes a capital letter and a lowercase letter - and they have different weights. That can be legitimately questioned from an æsthetic point of view.

Creativity and originality aren't "bad", but if a typeface is in some aspects outré or self-indulgent, whether in the design of the ampersand, or the letter Q, or some other such matter, it's entirely reasonable to look for an alternative typeface that can fulfill the same role without distracting elements.

While the ampersand, unlike most other special characters, usually was designed specifically for each given typeface even in the days of foundry type, the technical limitation of always using a Bodoni-ish version of the sorts @, #, %, and * did at least have one thing to be said for it - problems in recognizing these less-common characters were avoided.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

The trouble with the ampersand in FF Olsen, in addition to the mere novelty, is that it juxtaposes a capital letter and a lowercase letter - and they have different weights.

Ƕ combines uppercase and lowercase as well.

quadibloc's picture

@frode frank:
Ƕ combines uppercase and lowercase as well.

OK, that's the Latin capital letter Hwair. It's a ligature (there's also a completely different Gothic letter of the same name). The lowercase form, ƕ, is called "hv".

Ah. I had to read the Wikipedia article very carefully to figure out what the ligature was for - it was to represent that different-looking Gothic letter in Latin transliteration.

pealwah's picture
pretty sexy script ampersand

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