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Certain brands, such as Yahoo!, insist that the exclamation is part of their name. In writing about such a brand or company, is the inclusion of the vanity punctuation right, wrong, or optional?

I would like my writing to be correct; however, of more concern with the average reader, I wouldn't want my writing to seem to be pandering.

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+1 Thoughtfully written and useful –  Daniel Sep 16 '11 at 19:15
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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It seems optional, considering that even business article talk about Yahoo, while introducing some facts at the end about "Yahoo!".

If your article is about the public corporation, you should use consistently one convention, preferably the one using the exact name of the company: "Yahoo!".

But "Yahoo" is also natural since:

  • you won't find any punctuation in the host names: www.yahoo.com, not www.yahoo!.com
  • at least, it won't wreak havoc in your word processor spell checker ;) See Ignoring Punctuation in Names if you still have to use the '!'.
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To be fair, ! is not a valid domain name character, so it's impossible for Yahoo! to use it, though I'm sure they would if they could. –  LucasTizma Sep 20 '11 at 3:34
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The rumor is that one early version of the DNS specification prohibited names from starting with a digit (that makes it much easier to tell a host name from an IP address -- just look at the first character), and 3COM madly protested, eventually prevailing. Now we look at the last character. –  David Schwartz Sep 20 '11 at 11:20
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The best way to deal with the vanity punctuation is as The Register do. Note "Related stories."


Edit (as requested) a sample of headlines from online newspaper The Register:

Yahoo! wonks! brace! for! lay-offs!
Yahoo! buys! TV-sharing! startup! IntoNow!
Yahoo! Buzz! Given! Mercy! Bullet!
Yahoo! to! offload! Delicious! as! early! as! next! week!
Yahoo! revenues! dip! 4! per! cent!

You get the idea. Yahooexclamationmark's PR boss may feel a bit ambivalent.

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That's excellent. I resent every time I sense that I'm being asked to put any punctuation in a corporate name other than an apostrophe. As a Joomla! developer, I spent a lot of time resenting this. –  bikeboy389 Dec 10 '10 at 3:50
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It's a bit late, I know, but could you include some quotes from the link? This being the internet, link rot happens, especially if you're depending on the "related stories" listed on the other site. –  Marthaª Jun 23 '11 at 13:31
    
@Martha: Pleased to be of service. –  RedGrittyBrick Jun 23 '11 at 14:31
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Danke schön! (Still giggling at the exclamation marks, btw.) –  Marthaª Jun 23 '11 at 14:36
    
Not to be rude, but what does this have anything to do with a valid answer? –  LucasTizma Sep 20 '11 at 3:34
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Some sites, will use Yahoo! while talking about the company, but others do not. For example, check this CNN Money page that refers to the company as Yahoo! Inc.

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thanks, I think I forgot to paste it in –  kzh Dec 3 '10 at 0:37
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Certainly you should use the name as the company prefers it, but there's nothing to stop you mocking it gently. If I am writing to somebody at one of those 'cool' companies that disdain capital letters and spaces, I make a point of addressing the envelope to 'johnrsmith, coolconsultancy': similar use of exclamation marks seems only fair to Yahoo!

Incidentally, there is a village in Devon called Westward Ho!; the punctuation is undoubtedly part of the name there.

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From a legal standpoint, you want to use the the official trademark name that the company uses in naming itself. Check court documents to see what Yahoo prefers and use that.

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Like you carefully don't, you mean? –  TimLymington Jun 23 '11 at 14:45
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Nobody is legally obliged to use the company's preferred form. –  Mechanical snail Jul 24 '12 at 9:43
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