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I work with a company whose name is frequently reduced to an initialism (acronym). Let's say the name is "Cool Computer Systems" (CCS). I am engaged in an ongoing, bloody battle with the marketing department, wherein they insist the following apostrophe use is correct:

Buy CCS' New Product.

Reading that line brings visions of crying 4th grade teachers and librarians to mind. I am quite certain that it should be written:

Buy CCS's New Product.


The examples are in title case because the sentence is the subject line of an e-mail.


Their argument is that "Systems" is plural. I say that plurality doesn't matter, because "Systems" is part of the name. The name as a whole should be handled as a singular entity, because the company is, in fact, a single, legal entity. Thus, the possessive form should be written:

The Emperor's clothes

Cool Computer Systems's clothes

CSS's clothes

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@aedia λ - Incitentally, I also came across Common Errors in English Usage -- Acronyms and Apostrophes – Mike Christian Sep 22 '11 at 16:06
If you made a more moderate claim, you would be correct. Unfortunately, as stated, they are right and you are wrong. Their form is entirely correct and your claim that it is incorrect is erroneous. (Try instead claiming that your form is better. Then you will be correct.) – David Schwartz Sep 23 '11 at 13:01
Just because something is "correct" doesn't mean it is better. One time I was doing plaques for a college. Was supposed to put something along the lines of "past alumni" meaning a former student. The person ordering the plaques wanted them to say 'alumna" for females and 'alumnus' for males. While correct, she had no idea how pretentious that would be. Let alone I would have to double check the gender of someone whose first name was Nycartiss or something similar. The apostrophe after an S without another s is silly. We are used to two S's, we expect two, don't make it look like a typo – Dan Shaffer Mar 18 at 19:05
up vote 7 down vote accepted

According to the Guardian style guide:

The possessive in words and names ending in S normally takes an apostrophe followed by a second S (Jones's, James's), but be guided by pronunciation and use the plural apostrophe where it helps: Mephistopheles', Waters', Hedges' rather than Mephistopheles's, Waters's, Hedges's.

So I would likewise go by pronunciation write it as:

Buy CCS's New Product.

Or rewrite to avoid it the apostrophe altogether.

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Of course, drop the caps if not a title: Buy CCS's new product. – Hugo Sep 22 '11 at 15:55
Good point. This is the subject line of an e-mail, set in title case. – Mike Christian Sep 22 '11 at 15:58
This native British English speaker would say ‘Mephistopheles's’, ‘Waters's’ and Hedges's and punctuate accordingly. – Barrie England Sep 22 '11 at 17:44

Seems that lawprose agrees with CCS's.

"Acronyms and initialisms. It doesn’t come up often (and it’s easily avoided), but the plural possessive of acronyms and initialisms follows the general rule. Take the singular {an MRI}, make it plural {two MRIs}, and add an apostrophe {the three MRIs’ role in the diagnosis}. If there’s a plural word in an initialism — as when Lloyd’s Register Drilling Integrity Services becomes the singular name LRDIS – treat the full initialism as a singular and make the possessive form singular {LRDIS’s contentions}."

From http://www.lawprose.org/blog/?p=1357

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Clearly far too late to answer but in case anybody else has a similar query the OP is wrong, the marketing dept is right and so is David Schwartz.

The fact with apostrophe usage is it changes for words ending in sibilants.

So, it would be:

David's post.

But also:

Mr Schwartz' post.

So, it is Cool Computer Systems' new product, and not Cool Computer Systems's new product.

The answer is in how you say it.

So, the marketing people are right, it's CCS', not CCS's.

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It would be helpful if you could provide a link as supporting evidence. – jimm101 Mar 18 at 15:22

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