HTML interpretation of ampersands

Bennet-Tec Support (
Tue, 12 Jul 1994 19:35:18 +0200


To: Anyone who can help.

From: Jeff Bennett

Re: HTML Specification: Interpretation of Ampersands

I am writing an interpreter for HTML using Visual Basic and the ALLText custom
control for display of multi-font text and hypertext handling.

I am somewhat confused by the use of the ampersand character ("&"). As far as I
read the specification, the ampersand is to be used ONLY as a special escape
character. In order to embed an ampersand in the text presented by a viewer one
should use the string "&amp". My confusion arises from the fact that I have a
copy of MOSAIC which appears to handle the ampersand in some cases as a standard
character. For instance, in the following line of a HTML document:

<li><a href="uh00coay.htm"><h2>P&G did something weird </h2></a>

Is there some special case in force here? How should a string like this be

What should the rule for interpretation be where the ampersand is not followed
by either a character reference or one of the special entities specified in the

Thanks in advance for any responses.

Jeff Bennett
Bennet-Tec Information Systems
10 Steuben Drive
Jericho, NY 11753
(516) 433-6283
E-Mail: 71201.1075@Compuserve.Com

PS: the spec I am using is dated 13 July 1993. Is there a more recent
specification published?