In praise of the ampersand


Today is National Ampersand Day. Its creator, a graphic designer named Chaz DeSimone, calls the ampersand “fun, fabulous and functional.”

The character, which is a short form for “and,” played a role in my time as a copy editor at The News & Observer. In the early 1990s, the Raleigh newspaper underwent a major redesign. As part of that, the ampersand appeared in the name after an absence of nearly 100 years: The News and Observer became The News & Observer again.

The business that published it, however, was still the The News and Observer Publishing Co. This distinction was part of the newspaper’s in-house style guide in the 1990s, so we had to be careful when editing stories about the business side of the publication. Now, the ampersand appears in both instances, and both entities are owned by McClatchy.

I like the ampersand in the newspaper’s name. It’s distinctive and elegant. I hope the ampersand will stay there for years to come in print and on screen.