How To Include AP Style Company Names in Your Writing
If you are like me and tend to do a lot of blog or SEO content writing throughout the week, you probably mention a well-known company or two in your content. It is imperative that when you write any piece – particularly if it is for a specific company – that you get these names right. For instance, is “inc” capitalized? Is there a comma before “LLC”? While it often may seem that AP Stylebook guidelines can be difficult to learn, AP style company names are quite simple if you keep a few things in mind.
Rules for Writing Company Names in AP Style
Below you’ll find a list of things to consider when writing company names:
Include the Company’s Full Name
Use the company’s full name somewhere in the article, especially if the article’s subject matter could affect the company’s business. Doing so also helps search engines find your content. The full name is not required if the company name is irrelevant to the story, and you don’t have to use the formal name on first reference.
Consider Costco Wholesale Corp. as an example. It’s appropriate to refer to the company as Costco, but you’ll want to use Costco Wholesale Corp. if you’re writing an earnings report or a story that could influence the company’s stock price.
Drop the Comma
Have you ever wondered if there is a comma before LLC in AP style? Or if there is a comma after “inc” in a sentence? Well, if the company name is followed by Inc., Ltd. or LLC, do not include a comma before it, even if it is included in the formal name elsewhere.
- Apple Inc.
- Schlumberger Ltd.
- FCA US LLC
Don’t Forget the ‘The’
Be sure to include “The” if it is part of the formal company name.
Company Name Examples:
- The Coca-Cola Co.
- The Gap Inc.
- The Home Depot Inc.
If “The” is not included in the formal company name, keep it lowercase unless it is the first word in the sentence.
- Pittsburgh is home of the United States Steel Corp. headquarters.
If you are unsure what the full name of a company is, you can consult the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, or any filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Use Proper Spelling and Capitalization in Company Names
You should generally use the company’s preferred spelling of its name, but for corporate news or press releases, you can simply use the legal name filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Remember to capitalize the first letter of a company name even if it uses a lowercase one initially. For example, Adidas and Lululemon both tend to use a lowercase letter at the beginning of their names, but when referring to those companies in a piece of content, you would capitalize the first letter per AP style company names guidelines.
An exception to this capitalization rule is any company that begins with a lowercase letter but includes a capital letter elsewhere in the name, such as eBay. However, you should always capitalize company names when they appear at the beginning of a sentence.
- Ebay was originally named AuctionWeb.
- A broken laser pointer was the first item sold on eBay.
Likewise, if a company tends to use all capital letters in its name, you would not use all capitals. Instead, capitalize just the first letter followed by lowercase letters.
- Asus rather than ASUS
- Ikea rather than IKEA
- USA Today rather than USA TODAY
The only time it is appropriate to use all capital letters in a company name is if the letters are individually pronounced, as in BMW or BKA Content. Remember to brush up on your AP acronym rules while you are at it.
Do You Italicize Company Names?
No. Capitalization of company names is correct, but no italicizing or underlining is needed.
Even if a company’s name typically includes symbols such as asterisks, exclamation points or plus signs, do not use these when following AP Stylebook, because they could distract or confuse readers. Take these company names for example:
- E-Trade rather than E*Trade
- Toys R Us rather than Toys “R” Us
- Yahoo rather than Yahoo!
When it comes to ampersands (&), you should use one only if it is included in the formal name of the company. Otherwise, use “and.”
- AT&T Inc.
- Eli Lilly and Co.
Examples of AP Style Company Names
Below you’ll find a list of the formal names of some major U.S companies:
|3M Co.||Exelon Corp.||Norfolk Southern Corp.|
|Abbott Laboratories||Express Scripts Holding Co.||Northrop Grumman Corp.|
|Aetna Inc.||Exxon Mobil Corp.||Occidental Petroleum Corp.|
|Alcoa Corp.||Facebook Inc.||Oracle Corp.|
|The Allstate Corp.||FedEx Corp.||PepsiCo Inc.|
|Alphabet Inc.||Ford Motor Co.||Pfizer Inc.|
|Altria Group Inc.||The Gap Inc.||Phillips 66|
|Amazon.com Inc.||General Dynamics Corp.||PNC Financial Services Group Inc.|
|American Express Co.||General Electric Co.||The Procter & Gamble Co.|
|American International Group Inc.||General Mills Inc.||Prudential Financial Inc.|
|Amgen Inc.||General Motors Co.||Qualcomm Inc.|
|Anadarko Petroleum Corp.||The Goldman Sachs Group Inc.||Raytheon Co.|
|Anthem Inc.||Halliburton Co.||Schlumberger Ltd.|
|Apple Inc.||HP Inc.||Sears Holdings Corp.|
|Arconic Inc.||The Home Depot Inc.||Simon Property Group Inc.|
|AT&T Inc.||Honeywell International Inc.||Southwest Airlines Co.|
|Bank of America Corp.||Intel Corp.||Sprint Corp.|
|Berkshire Hathaway Inc.||International Business Machines Corp.||Starbucks Corp.|
|Best Buy Co.||J.C. Penney Co.||Staples Inc.|
|Biogen Idec Inc.||Johnson & Johnson||Target Corp.|
|Boeing Co.||JPMorgan Chase & Co.||Texas Instruments Inc.|
|Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.||Kellogg Co.||Time Warner Inc.|
|Carnival Corp.||Kimberly-Clark Corp.||Travelers Cos.|
|Caterpillar Inc.||The Kraft Heinz Co.||Twitter Inc.|
|CBS Corp.||The Kroger Co.||Tyson Foods Inc.|
|Chevron Corp.||Lockheed Martin Corp.||Union Pacific Corp.|
|Cisco Systems Inc.||Lowe’s Cos.||United Continental Holdings Inc.|
|Citigroup Inc.||Macy’s Inc.||UnitedHealth Group Inc.|
|The Coca-Cola Co.||Marathon Oil Corp.||United Parcel Service Inc.|
|Colgate-Palmolive Co.||Mastercard Inc.||United States Steel Corp.|
|Comcast Corp.||McDonald’s Corp.||United Technologies Corp.|
|ConAgra Foods Inc.||McKesson Corp.||U.S. Bancorp|
|ConocoPhillips||Medtronic Inc.||Verizon Communications Inc.|
|Costco Wholesale Corp.||Merck & Co.||Viacom Inc.|
|CVS Health Corp.||MetLife Inc.||Visa Inc.|
|Deere & Co.||Microsoft Corp.||Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.|
|Delta Air Lines Inc.||Mondelez International Inc.||Walmart Inc.|
|DowDuPont Inc.||Monsanto Co.||The Walt Disney Co.|
|Duke Energy Corp.||Morgan Stanley||Wells Fargo & Co.|
|eBay Inc.||News Corp.||Whole Foods Market Inc.|
|Eli Lilly and Co.||Nike Inc.||Xerox Corp.|
Below you’ll find a list of the formal names of some major non-U.S companies:
|Airbus Group||Diageo PLC||Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.|
|Allianz SE||Electricite de France SA||Reliance Industries Ltd.|
|America Movil SAB de CV||Eni SpA||Rio Tinto PLC|
|Anheuser-Busch InBev SA||E.ON SE||Roche Holding AG|
|ArcelorMittal||Fiat Automobiles SpA||Royal Dutch Shell PLC|
|AstraZeneca PLC||Gazprom OAO||SABMiller PLC|
|Baidu Inc.||GlaxoSmithKline PLC||Samsung Electronics Co.|
|Banco Santander SA||Glencore PLC||Sanofi SA|
|Bank of China Ltd.||H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB||SAP SE|
|Barclays PLC||Honda Motor Co.||Siemens AG|
|Barrick Gold Corp.||HSBC Holdings PLC||Societe Generale SA|
|Bayer AG||Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd.||Sony Corp.|
|BHP Billiton Ltd.||ING Groep NV||Tata Group|
|BMW Group||L’Oreal SA||Telefonica SA|
|BNP Paribas SA||LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA||Tesco PLC|
|BP PLC||Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.||Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.|
|Carrefour SA||Nestle SA||ThyssenKrupp AG|
|China Construction Bank Corp.||Nintendo Co.||Total SA|
|China Mobile Ltd.||Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp.||Toyota Motor Corp.|
|China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. or Sinopec||Nissan Motor Co.||UBS AG|
|CNOOC Ltd.||Nokia Corp.||Unilever NV|
|Credit Suisse Group AG||Novartis AG||Vale SA|
|Daimler AG||Novo Nordisk A/S||Vivendi SA|
|Deutsche Bank AG||PetroChina Co.||Vodafone Group PLC|
|Deutsche Telekom AG||Petroleo Brasileiro SA||Volkswagen AG|
AP Style Company Names: Conclusion
It may seem like there is a lot to remember with AP style company names, but if you keep these tips in mind, mentioning them in your content should be easy. What simple tips do you have for remembering how to write company names in AP style? Share them in the comments!
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Great guide – thanks for this clarification!
Example company name: The Center for Industry Integrating Software, Intelligence, and Design
Is it correct to have a comma after the word “Intelligence” before “and” ?
AP style editors have weighed in on using a comma before “Inc.” and “Ltd.” only. However, AP style does not use the serial comma (the last comma in your example), so I imagine the editors would suggest that you remove that final comma, even if it’s traditionally part of the company name. (I suggest that you do not do this if it changes the meaning of the name.) I think you’re in the gray window to do whatever you think is best.
Are you affiliated with the Smith Group? or
Are you affiliated with Smith Group?
do we need the article “the” before a company name with “Group” in it?
Here’s the guidance AP has given us on this:
“If ‘The’ is part of the formal company name it should be included. For example: The Walt Disney Co.”
“Use the lowercase unless it is part of the company’s formal name.”
Is it a best practice to include a business name all on the same line when writing advertising copy?
I’m not sure I understand your question, Renee. Would you mind providing an example?
If product name is Potato MAX, for example. In documentation do you write MAX as all capitalized or Max?
Thank you for confirming that I can write Naughtone instead of naughtone. Why any company would start their name with a lowercase letter is beyond me. It erodes brand strength since it will have to be capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.
I would change your above copy to Gap Inc, and SmithGroup. I believe those are the names of those companies.
Yes, it’s “SmithGroup.”
According to AP Stylebook, you should use “The Gap Inc.” on first reference and “the Gap” on second reference.
Thanks for reading!
Since 2007, Mr. Sew has led The Johnson Company’s transaction services team. He is a licensed investment banker and securities principal. Mr. Sew has been instrumental to The Johnson Company’s mergers and acquisitions advisory group, which has become the leading physicians sell-side advisory firm closing over $3 billion in transactions.
The name of the company is: The Johnson Company. Can I omit the word “The” before the company’s name in the above sentences?
Before joining The Johnson Company, Mr. Sew co-founded Cherix.
After joining Handy Smith, president and founder of The Johnson Company, the two partners closed several transactions.
Do I leave the word “The” in the above two sentences?
Include “The” if it is part of the formal company name.
If I am writing in British English, and the text includes the name of a company that uses American English, am I obliged to keep the American English spelling? E.g., Center
Interesting question! Sometimes company names do change from country to country. However, if there is not a well-established name change, I would use the American English version.
Is it right or acceptable to refer to a company as ” A Delta Company “? if the official name of the company is “Delta”.
I wonder if article ” a” can ever be used with a company name.
I know that the general rule says No. Are there any exceptions?
If the company is owned by Delta, I don’t see a problem with saying, “A Delta company.” (Note the lowercase “company.”)
Branding another company as “A Delta Company” (capitalized) is not something I would do unless Delta does.
When bolding a company name in text, should the periods used for the abbreviations also be bolded? As in Corp. or Inc.?
When “Inc.” is part of the company’s legal name, you should bold the period as well.
Very helpful article. Question: Can a company name be shortened when you have already used the full name in the paragraph? Example Apex Sheriff’s Office vs Sheriff’s Office.
I have a 60 page internal report that I do yearly and I am being told that I should use the full name continuously throughout it. See Below:
The Apex County Sheriff’s Office has established a policy of Equal Employment Opportunity. The Apex County Sheriff’s Office is committed to the use of merit considerations in its employment practices. Specifically, the Apex County Sheriff’s Office prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, political affiliation, handicap or disability (except to the extent that the handicap or disability is job-related, consistent with a business necessity, and the safe performance of the job). The Apex County Sheriff’s Office statement to this effect may be found at the end of this report and is identified as Attachment A.
Yes, you can certainly shorten the name (or use an acronym) on subsequent uses if it is clear to the reader that you’re referring to the same organization. Using the full organization name throughout the entire document could become very tedious to read.