How To Include AP Style Company Names in Your Writing

If you are like me and tend to do a lot of blogging 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.

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.

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. 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.

Avoid Symbols

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!

Include Ampersands

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 LaboratoriesExpress 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 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 & JohnsonTarget 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
ConocoPhillipsMedtronic 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 StanleyWells 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 GroupDiageo PLCRanbaxy Laboratories Ltd.
Allianz SEElectricite de France SAReliance Industries Ltd.
America Movil SAB de CVEni SpARio Tinto PLC
Anheuser-Busch InBev SAE.ON SERoche Holding AG
ArcelorMittalFiat Automobiles SpARoyal Dutch Shell PLC
AstraZeneca PLCGazprom OAOSABMiller PLC
Baidu Inc.GlaxoSmithKline PLCSamsung Electronics Co.
Banco Santander SAGlencore PLCSanofi SA
Bank of China Ltd.H&M Hennes & Mauritz ABSAP SE
Barclays PLCHonda Motor Co.Siemens AG
Barrick Gold Corp.HSBC Holdings PLCSociete Generale SA
Bayer AGIndustrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd.Sony Corp.
BHP Billiton Ltd.ING Groep NVTata Group
BMW GroupL’Oreal SATelefonica SA
BNP Paribas SALVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SATesco PLC
BP PLCMitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Carrefour SANestle SAThyssenKrupp AG
China Construction Bank Corp.Nintendo Co.Total SA
China Mobile Ltd.Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp.Toyota Motor Corp.
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. or SinopecNissan Motor Co.UBS AG
CNOOC Ltd.Nokia Corp.Unilever NV
Credit Suisse Group AGNovartis AGVale SA
Daimler AGNovo Nordisk A/SVivendi SA
Deutsche Bank AGPetroChina Co.Vodafone Group PLC
Deutsche Telekom AGPetroleo Brasileiro SAVolkswagen 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!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.