AP Updates Company Names
But beware of a small trap.
The AP is more explicit in its updated "company names" entry, with specific examples:
Generally, follow the spelling and capitalization preferred by the company: eBay. But capitalize the first letter if it begins a sentence.
Do not use all capital letter names unless the letters are individually pronounced: BMW. Others should be uppercase and lowercase. Ikea not IKEA; USA Today, not USA TODAY.
Do not use symbols such as exclamation points, plus signs or asterisks that form contrived spellings that might distract or confuse a reader. Use Yahoo, not Yahoo!; Toys R Us, not Toys "R" Us; E-Trade, not E*Trade.
The potential clunker in there, if you are not careful, is Toys "R" Us. The AP has a separate entry for that company mandating the quote marks. I checked the online stylebook a few minute ago, and it's still there, though I pointed this out to stylebook editor Norm Goldstein about a week ago. So make sure to go in and pencil in both changes. I haven't checked for any others.
(With a work as massive as the stylebook, such glitches are bound to happen. For instance, two years ago AP went to abbreviations for all titles such as Gov., Sen., etc. before names, even in quotes. However, under "titles" is this slightly misleading wording still there: "The following formal titles are capitalized and abbreviated as shown when used before a name outside quotations. (Italics mine.) That's led some folks to mistakenly conclude those should still be spelled out inside a quotation. Much as I favor that approach, it's not how AP does things these days. Goldstein had to clean out several cross-references when this changed; I'm sure he'll get this one clarified before the next edition.)
Some other changes to AP's entry on companies:
- The formal name need not be used on first reference -- for example, Wal-Mart is acceptable for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. -- but it should be contained in the body of any story in which the subject matter could affect a company's business. For example, include the corporate name in a story on an earnings report, or in a story on a plane crash that could affect the airline's stock price. However, the corporate name might be irrelevant in a story about a political candidate's appearance at a local retail outlet.
- When the full corporate name is NOT in the story, it should be included in a self-contained paragraph separated from the bottom of the story by a dash: American Airlines is a unit of AMR Corp., or Disney's full corporate name is The Walt Disney Co. If more than one company is listed, each should be in a self-contained paragraph below the dash.
The AP has also changed its reference for proper company names. Instead of Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, it now refers users to the major stock exchange sites (AP also has an internal site, but it's not accessible to outsiders. Wouldn't that be a great addition to the electronic stylebook, however? Share the jewels with those paying the money. The AP tantalizingly makes the link clickable in the online stylebook, only to have it to go a 404 error.)
For a company's formal name, consult the national stock exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange, www.nyse.com; Nasdaq, www.nasdaq.com; or the American Stock Exchange, www.amex.com. (AP staffers may also reference an alphabetical list of all company names, with stock ticker abbreviations, at http://biz.ap.org.)