Rule 1: You should put a comma before “&” in APA Style when you use it in a list or to reference authors.
- Correct: We describe the exact causes of the conflict in the investigation (Navarro, Hughes, & Carter, 2011).
- Incorrect: We describe the exact causes of the conflict in the investigation (Navarro, Hughes & Carter, 2011).
Rule 2: You do not need to put a comma before “&” at the end of a list when using Chicago, AP, and Oxford styles.
- Correct: They sell sandwiches, baguettes & paninis.
- Incorrect: They sell sandwiches, baguettes, & paninis.
Continue reading to learn more about the rules concerning “&” and how you can use the term.
When to Use a Comma Before Ampersand
When you need to decide when to use a comma before “&,” you should refer to Rule 1.
Rule 1: Use a comma before “&” when writing a list in-text or references in APA Style.
In general, ampersands should be avoided in formal writing. However, sometimes it is necessary to use it.
For example, when citing three authors in a text, you should use a comma before the ampersand.
- The results of the experiment were conclusive and in line with the predictions (Harvey, Jones, & Kim, 2021).
Inserting a comma before the final item in a list is known as a serial comma or Oxford comma. Using a serial comma is only necessary when you write in APA Style.
- The animals they tested the product on included mice, rabbits, & rats.
When to Avoid a Comma Before Ampersand
The following part describes when you do not need to put a comma before ampersand.
Rule 2: You shouldn’t use a comma before “&” in general writing or texts that follow AP, Chicago, or Oxford styles.
All these style guides generally advise against using the ampersand in formal writing.
However, if you need to use ampersand in a text or a list, it is unnecessary to put a comma.
- Senators were present at the conference from Kenya, Zimbabwe & South Africa.
- The three factors considered during the test were heat, light exposure & PH level.
You only need a comma before “&” when you write in APA Style. For example, use a comma before ampersand for lists or references in APA Style. For all other purposes, including at the end of lists, you do not need to put a comma before “&.”