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Symbols and special characters

Some symbols and special characters can make your content confusing and difficult to read, especially for users who have accessibility needs. Some users depend upon assistive technologies that read out every character and symbol.

In your content, avoid using:

  • a hyphen (-) to indicate a range of numbers
  • the ampersand symbol (&, sometimes called the "and sign") instead of “and”
  • the more than or less than symbol (> and <)
  • the slash symbol ( / ) in place of “or”
  • the plus and minus symbol (+ and -), unless in a dataset or table
  • an exclamation mark (!), unless quoting directly

Where possible, write words in full instead of using symbols and special characters. This will make your content easier to read for all users.


300 to 600
more than and less than
male or female

Do not

< and >

Symbols and special characters should only be used when there is no reasonable alternative. This ensures that all users can find, use and understand your content.

In your content, you can use:

  • punctuation
  • the percentage symbol, when providing statistics
  • major currency units
  • the ampersand (&) symbol for R&D (research and development) and M&A (mergers and acquisitions)
  • the slash in and/or

You should avoid overusing symbols and special characters as this can overwhelm users and make your content difficult to read.


The majority of respondents (67%) from our Labour Force Survey spent £80 to £90 in January to March 2022. This was a rise of 1% and the greatest increase since July to September 2020.

Do not

The majority, 67%, (66% in the previous Labour Force Survey (LFS)) of respondents from the Office for National Statistics’s (ONS’s) LFS, spent “£80-£90”, in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022; a rise of 1% (the highest since Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2020).

Ampersands (and symbol)

Write out “and” at all times. Ampersands (&) should never be used, even in tables, charts and graphs.

distribution, hotels and restaurants sector
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

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