ampersand, hashtag for writersBy Allison VanNest of

Freelance writers often work on a wide variety of projects for varying audiences, from casual content marketing pieces to formal business plans. Sometimes, this means dealing with conflicting style guides (or no style guide at all). This can be especially tricky with typographical symbols (e.g., &, *, or #) that are common in everyday writing but not necessarily appropriate for some types of writing.

Here’s the rundown on three of the most common symbols you might encounter:


The ampersand dates back to the Roman Empire in 63 B.C., where it was invented as a component of shorthand by Marcus Tullius Tiro. The symbol has been found on the walls of Pompeii and illuminated many a Medieval manuscript.

As an abbreviation for the word “and,” it is often found in modern day casual writing. However, in all but a few circumstances, you should spell out the whole word. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “Exceptions include expressions like ‘R&D’ and names of corporations that are generally abbreviated, such as AT&T, where it would be odd to spell out ‘and’ but not the rest of the abbreviation.”

If you’re going to write an ampersand longhand, make sure you go in the correct direction. Otherwise, it’s a treble clef.


Asterisks (pronounced “aste-risk”) generally denote footnotes in formal or academic writing. They can also be used to show an elided letter (as in “D*mn it!”), though this is less common. According to Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty, “In the past, asterisks were used to show the omission of a letter or a passage in time, but that role has largely been taken over by the ellipsis.” [click to continue…]


writing deadlineI’m up against three writing deadlines!

There’s this one, a self-imposed deadline to get an article and a newsletter out for this blog on most Thursdays. Since it’s not quite 9 am where I am it looks like I’ll make this one.

I started writing this morning at about 7:30 and finished one of two paid blog posts. The trouble is they’re both due in July, and I notice today is the 24th. I’ll probably make this deadline, but I’ll be pushing. Now that I’ve completed three articles for them  I know for certain I need to allow more research and yeasting time because it’s a topic dear to my heart. Here’s the list so far if you’re curious.

Plus I have six more of eight also due this month for another publisher. I’ll get these done too, because they’re much simpler for me – I grew up in real estate so I’ve got a great background.

But! Look at how I’ve jammed myself in a corner!

How did I mis-manage these writing deadlines?

How did I let these writing deadlines slip so much?

Like you, I’ve often got a lot on my plate, and this month it’s included: [click to continue…]

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