Whats your dream character? Small and curvy? Tall and strong? Whatever your type, you’ll see the most attractive glyphs in this typographic beauty contest. The ampersand is every typography addict’s favourite ligature, but which font has the best? I searched the world’s font foundries to create a showcase of the most beautiful ampersands, find the one that takes your fancy.
Originally a ligature that combined the letters E and T of the Latin word ‘et’, the ampersand is now a common replacement for the word ‘and’. Its form has evolved over centuries from the more script-like ‘et’ ligature where the letters are clearly visible, to the more stylised character we recognise on our keyboards today. I browsed through 100s of typefaces to find the font with the most unique and flamboyant ampersand designs. Which one is your favourite?
1. ELOQUENT JF PRO
Eloquent is a digital revival of the old classic Pistilli Roman. Many regard Pistilli as having the best ampersand of all time with its elegant swashes. You can actually find a free replicaof Pistilli which also contains this alternate ampersand glyph under the character.
2. CASLON NO 337
Some of the most elegant ampersands come from the script era of old style typefaces. Caslon is a great example with its flowing swooshes and strokes.
3. BASKERVILLE ITALIC
Baskerville Italic is the go-to ampersand when you want to add a touch of class to your designs. All the hipster typographers either use this glyph as their logo, or have it tattooed on their wrist!
4. CARMEN FIESTA
Carmen Fiesta is a display typeface that looks like it has come straight from the circus, but within the glyph set of wild ornaments and fleurons is a pretty ampersand with elegant ball terminals.
With a name that combines masthead and didone you know that Mastadoni is going to feature some ultra modern characters. Its ampersand has extra high contrast with some sharp swashes. Be sure to also take a peek at its ugly sister in the italic font
Most of the typefaces in this showcase are serifs, but that’s not to say sans-serifs aren’t beautiful. Campton features a minimalist ampersand with some interesting negative space, almost like a broken heart!
7. CASLON GRAPHIQUE
Caslon Graphique is a classic originating from 1725 that was ahead of its time. Does anyone else think this ampersand looks like the witch from Snow White, hunched over and offering a poisoned apple? “Go on, take a bite!”
8. HERA BIG
The stylish curves of the Hera Big ampersand look great in all its weights. Bold is shown here, but it also looks gorgeous in ExtraThin.
9. MILLER DISPLAY ITALIC
Like Baskerville, this gem of an ampersand can only be found in the Italic fonts of Miller. There’s also a Small Caps variant that tightens up the proportions.
Reina’s ornamental swashes give its ampersand a distinctive appearance compared to the usual ball terminals on modern serifs. Check out the engraved variant that almost confuses the eye with harsh black and white shapes.
11. FETTE FRAKTUR
For a scary blackletter typeface Fette Fraktur has quite a camp looking ampersand! The rest of the font is characterised by hard lines and sharp points, but this character proudly strikes a sassy pose.
Clarendon’s ampersand has the typographic equivalent of the hollywood jawline with its solid slab serif presence and perfectly balanced measurements.
13. MY DARLING
The extremely high contrast of My Darling almost breaks this ampersand up into four separate pieces, but the result is a curvaceous design without a single straight line.
14. TOM’S ROMAN
The sophisticated script like appearance of Tom’s Roman sends your eyes wandering as you follow the curves right the way around its body.
If Thorowgood was in human form it would be breaking the Internet every day with that butt!
Milano’s ampersand is cute and dainty, but also strong and confident. It has that classic chic style that never goes out of fashion.
17. CHINO DISPLAY
It’s unusual to see the early ‘et’ style ampersand with such a modern style with broad brush strokes, but it works so well with soft and cuddly Chino Display Ultra.
Carousel provides the perfect contrast between broad and thin strokes to give it balanced shape.
19. KINGS CASLON
Kings Caslon is a very similar ampersand to the related Caslon No 337 typeface featured above, but its noble roots make it tall and proud.
The Clearface ampersand uses a terminal where the others loop to form a bowl. The result is a trendy character that dares to be different.
Bodoni is a timeless classic that’s smart and professional in its regular format, but can pull off the casual look in italic.
The seductive curves of Lust make it quite a risqué ampersand. Described by its designer as having the leggy body of a Brazilian supermodel.
23. SAHARA BODINI
Sahara Bodoni is the Pamela Anderson of the typographic world. This is what happens when you take the naturally beautiful Bodoni and go OTT on the cosmetic surgery.
Manhattan’s ampersand is an Art Deco work of art. It prioritises form over function but it’s an interesting sculpture to admire.
25. DOMANI CP
The original ‘et’ ligature can be clearly seen in Domani’s ampersand, which is a strange combination of historic script and didone style.
Avia is a size zero supermodel ampersand. Incredibly beautiful but so thin it looks like it’s going to break.
27. PORT VINTAGE
As an experimental didone typeface Port Vintage has multiple experimental ampersands, 7 to be exact. They’re all just as crazy as this one too.
Perla’s ampersand has such thick and luscious curves it creates even more flowing shapes in the negative space.
29. MODEL 4F
The multi-lingual Model 4F typeface has some extravagant characteristics that gives an exotic foreign appearance.
Brenta’s ampersand has a classic style with a prominent serif, but its Italic font’s unusual pose really catches the eye with a leg like descender dangling below the baseline.