What is + and sign

And or &?
- How to use the & symbol correctly

Many think that the & symbol is simply a symbol for “and”, a short, handy alternative. But in reality it is just a symbol for some Use cases of "and". who & With and equates, extends the function of the & symbol too far and makes mistakes.

Originally the & is a ligature (ie a fusion of two letters to form a new spelling) of the Latin “and”. “Et” became “&”, as in German from s and z the ß emerged. In German, however, this ligature has the character of a special character, since it is usually pronounced as “and” and not as “et”. But that doesn't mean that you can simply swap both spellings with one another. Just as the Eszett in German is only written in certain cases, the & also has a certain, clearly defined function.

The & -sign, although it is spoken identically, does not have the task of the little word and easy to replace, for example to save space. Instead, it is traditionally used to combine names (or other terms) into a common Company name join together.

Bang and Olufsen founded Bang & Olufsen.

That is why the & in German is also referred to as "commercial and". On the one hand, the (also) name base, on the other hand, the intention to express a business character is important. It often occurs in conjunction with abbreviated names:

H&M (Hennes & Mauritz)
C&A (Clemens & August)
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Peek & Coppenburg
M & M's (Mars & Murrie's)
Schneider & Sons
Tiffany & Co.

The & can also be found in commercial company names. This is not based on a name, but a legal person:

The & is also used nowadays in company or product names that are not derived from (person) names. For example, Lufthansa calls its frequent flyer program “Miles & More”, although neither Mr. Miles nor Ms. More are likely to have sponsored it. In these cases, the & sometimes acts like a satire.

The opposite is the case: Stylistically, a & would even be correct in the Internet address, but technical restrictions force it to be written out.

In other languages ​​it is also used to make it clear that pairs of words belong together, e.g. B. (coincidentally also a company name here):

American Telephone & Telegraph

The & -sign brings the telephone and telegraph closer together and thus signals the meaning of "American telephony and American telegraphy" in a shortened form, so that American unmistakably not just on Telephone relates.

Scientific work

In university seminar papers or theses, there is a tendency to separate several authors in footnotes or in the bibliography with & (because this is a common citation method in English-language papers). However, this is not correct in German works, even if the publishers of the cited authors use this notation themselves, and should, if necessary, be discussed with the supervisor of the work or permitted in the guidelines of the respective faculty. If in doubt, use written “and” instead, the hyphen (“/”) or a semicolon.

Müller, K. and Schultz, S.
Müller, K./Schultz, S.
Müller, K .; Schultz, S.
Colloquial and literary use

Because it is actually a special character and is seldom needed by normal typists, the & has retained its prominent place on German keyboards from the typewriter days, gained new importance in the field of computers and programming - and moves prominently into the field of vision on the 6-key. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why many writers tend to use it. It is particularly popular in headings, titles or author information because the symbol conveys elegance and, of course, saves space. But anyone who uses it in this form reveals themselves to be a typographical beginner. Anyone who uses this & solely for reasons of appearance is committing a style error.

The & is a simplification to draw attention to the accompanying names and to emphasize their relationship to one another. It therefore makes more sense in (book) titles, both with two main characters and with author duos. Here the use of the & can practically apply as customary law, but it also makes the so-called appear a bit like a brand or business-like - which can be intentional.

An exception also applies when a "& Co." is used casually, i.e. the addition that is usual for company names is used as a synonym for "and more":

Then the & is of course also welcome in German.

However, if you add & in regular texts, you achieve the opposite: you draw attention to the & symbol and no longer to the actual content.

The first & second § in the legal text.

Here, the sensible reader immediately stumbles over the characters, as the words do not take up the space they are entitled to (reading aloud quickly can even lead to confusion). So you can write in tweet, SMS or chat with a clear conscience, but not in normal texts.

The & is and remains primarily a sign of the business world. In other cases than to designate companies or brands (or in general to combine two names in title form), it is not appropriate in German. In the official spelling rules it is not mentioned at all, the Duden recommends the use only for company names, based on DIN standard 5008. In the end, it is not a question of wrong or right, but a question of convention and style, because words become in German in principle not replaced by characters (except for values ​​or in combination with numbers).

There are no valid reasons to use the & symbol outside of (company) names (or when programming).

If you need to separate words to save space, you can use a slash:

The first / second paragraph in the legal text.

If the content does not fit, the German has another abbreviation ready, which is even easier to type:

The first and second paragraph in the legal text.

That costs one more character, but it is faster to type and does not need the shift key - and by the way, it is the correct abbreviation for “and” in German.

Isolated, as a substitute for “and”, & has no place in texts / sentences. In the case of titles and headlines whose author places more emphasis on graphic design than on writing standards, one is more likely to turn a blind eye. It is also okay as a substitute for the phrase “and others / and more” in colloquial language. But where no company name is to be mentioned and formally correct spelling is important, the & should definitely remain in the drawer. If you want to save space, you should correctly use the abbreviation “u.”. The plus sign is also taboo as a mathematical symbol in texts.

07/21/2014; last change on December 20, 2014