How to Reference Company Names in Papers

When writing a paper for a high school course, a college class or for your job, there are certain rules you must follow. Most students are generally familiar with these rules, however, questions may still arise. For example, before referencing a company name in a paper, you'll want to first ask yourself if you're using the appropriate writing style. Once you have that covered, you will know how to reference a company's name correctly according to that style, as to avoid plagiarism or harming the company's reputation.

Which Writing Style Do I Use?

Generally, if you're talking about issues in the business world, then APA style is the way to go. APA style stands for the "American Psychology Association" and is a style of writing used typically for business or social sciences.

There will be instances where you're using a different writing style because your paper has nothing to do with corporations. Though, it's likely you may still have to mention the name of a company or organization at some point in the paper.

There are several writing styles that have specific rules when referring to the name of a company. AP Style, which stands for "Associated Press" is a writing style used by journalists. MLA stands for "Modern Language Association" and is typically used in the liberal arts and humanities fields, while AMA "American Medical Association" involves medical writing. AP style may refer to a company that's currently making headlines, MLA may refer to a company when talking about a publisher, and AMA may refer to a pharmaceutical company mentioned in a medical journal.

Referencing a Company in APA Style

To reference a company's name in APA style, you can simply input the name of the company within the paper. For instance, if you're citing a quote, example or statistic from IBM, then in your paper, you can say, "according to IBM" or whatever company it is you're mentioning. You can also use a parenthetical citation. For instance, you can write a quote or statistic, then reference the company inside the parenthesis, such as (IBM 2017).

Referencing a Company in Other Formats

There will be instances when you're not writing in APA style, but you'll still need to reference a company's name. The name of the company should always be how it is in the original text, and how you cite the name of that company, such as parenthetically, in the footnotes or a casual mention, depends on the writing style.

For instance, in AP style, it's okay to mention the name of the company within the text, and you don't need to write out the entire name on each mention. So, if you're writing about United Airlines, it's okay to say "United," but you should mention the full name at least once.

In MLA format, however, you must use the full name of the company at all times, unless it's always abbreviated, for example, WWF. And you must also eliminate business abbreviations such as Inc. and Corp., unless you are referring to a university press, then you can write "UP." For example, instead of writing "Princeton University Press" you can simply write "Princeton UP."

Acronyms and Capitalizations

Unless otherwise mentioned, acronyms and capitalizations are generally treated the same across the board, no matter which format of writing you use. When referencing a company, only use an acronym if the company refers to itself in that way, such as NASA. Otherwise, you must write out the entire name.

When capitalizing the name of a company, only do so if the name of the company has capital letters that are individually pronounced, such as"UFC." This is especially true in AP style. So, if the company itself generally capitalizes their entire name, such as IKEA, you should actually write it as "Ikea." However, if the name is GoPro, then copy the unique capitalization exactly as is.

As far as abbreviations go when referencing a company, some styles require them, some say to omit and some say to edit. For instance, MLA requires writers to omit abbreviations like "Ltd." whereas AMA style requires writers to keep it, but take away the period at the end. It's always important to double check this information before referencing a company in your paper.

When to Avoid Mentioning a Company

If all of this sounds too confusing, then you can try to avoid mentioning the company whenever possible. For instance, if there is a company spokesperson or a publication you can use that has the same information, then reference that instead. If your only option is to reference the company, then just be sure to always use the most credible source and to cite the name correctly.