Power of Ampersand


by NANCY UPPER, Founder & Creative Director of Uppersand™

Born of a casual attachment, the ampersand grew to capture the world’s heart.

“The ampersand’s got it all,” said London sign maker Paul Goodwin in 2012, “cheeky curves and coy looks that hide hidden depths. It’s the Marilyn Monroe of punctuation.”

Wait a minute.

In 1869, a poet wrote in London’s Punch magazine:

Of all the types in a printer’s hand,
Commend me to the Amperzand,
For he’s the gentleman, (seems to me)
Of the typographical companie.

The Roman scribes who conceived ampersands were men and women, so naturally ampersands have male and female traits. The ampersand’s true parents — the letters e and t of et, Latin for and — bestowed their own genes on the offspring : e’s rounded contours and t’s linear sinew.


Power of Ampersand is the —

First book to tell the full story of the ampersand’s history and development, from its forebears to its digital progeny.

First book to show worldwide uses of the ampersand symbol, word, and meanings.

First book to reveal the symbol’s psychology — how ampersands fill our needs for connection, belonging, identity, attention, structure, variety, and creativity.

First book to unite and interpret in one volume the ampersand knowledge, designs, news, lore, and voices now spread around the world.



The eureka moment when scribes saw that coupling e and t created a character they could shape in infinite ways, was the moment when the scribal hand gave the ampersand life beyond the alphabet.

Where there is life, there is behavior, and interaction with the life form’s environment. The ampersand behaves as connector, transforms communications, and promises more will come.

Over the centuries, the ampersand’s environment expanded from the velum page, to the printer’s tray, to the world stage. Today, international minds, emotions, and events inspire ampersand design and use. Power of Ampersand brings you into ancient and modern minds and motives.



Power of Ampersand’s narrative arc ascends across 20 chapters from BCE trough the Roman Empire, medieval scriptoria, the invention of printing, and books that taught alphabets with & as the last letter. The arc ascends through cities that turn into ampersand empires where &s connect business names and trades — and climbs into advertising where ampersands turn heads.

Artists, writers, and poets hop the curve and swing it into paintings, novels, and verse. The arc swirls around the globe, catching décor, education, fashion, music, food & beverage, love & marriage, nature, science, travel, sports, and popular culture in its ampersand web. In the 21st century, the arc rockets into a pyrotechnic display of digital ampersand graphics and brands.

Suddenly we realize that Power of Ampersand is a metaphor for everyone’s dream. The dream of rising from humble to significant. The dream of finding the context that fits your style, where you make a difference and enhance the whole.

To complement Upper’s original writing and confirm the ampersand’s global reach, she invites important people from all lands to contribute ampersand images, essays, stories, poems, recipes, and quotes to the book. Contributors receive full credit in print, and credit online when their work is shown or quoted on this website.



In the realm of Ampersandia, new material surfaces daily. Power of Ampersand presents the best in each chapter area. Plenty remains to fill sequels, movies, events, presentations, and broadcasts.

Watch this site > uppersand.com !