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How to handle a name that includes an exclamation point (or other punctuation)?

Just like the title of this question.

I was reading an article about CAPTCHAs on Wikipedia and I read this:

These methods have been used by spammers to set up thousands of accounts on free email services such as Gmail and Yahoo!.

Is this correct or should the period be omitted? It looks very strange.


My admittedly prescriptivist opinion is this. When companies (it is always companies) choose to break basic rules of language, like adding stops to their names, I feel no obligation at all to make any effort to accommodate this. I use my own discretion to write their names in a way that seems reasonable to me.

I treat commercialese as a foreign language: I adapt it into my own language as I see fit. Does anyone feel obliged to write Peking in Chinese characters? Or to write any foreign name in exactly the same way as it is written in its language of origin? I write Germany, Netherlands, Peter the Great, Charlemagne, etc., etc., none of which are written the same way in their respective languages of origin. Nowadays some newspapers seem to change their designation of a country whenever its regime invents a new name; I consider this unnecessary and contrary to historical practice.

Just write Tomtom, Yahoo, etc, unless there is a specific reason not to, such as in a database; in a random weblog, there is no such reason, since Google's search is fuzzy enough (too fuzzy for my taste in fact—but that is another story). [Edited from here on:] If the rules for a specific publication demand that you should do otherwise, it is up to you to decide whether you can get away with disobedience. It is generally a good idea to at least stick with one spelling throughout a document or publication, whichever it is.

In some cases, you might have a unique chance to lead the development of the spelling of a particular term into a different direction: if you write for a major newspaper about a new institution—say, if the tax agency had a new collecting division called Contr!butions :-)—, you might want to leave out any smiley faces and weird marks, to make the world a better place.

  • I think this is reasonable; just to add my pragmatic 2¢: certain publications have policies about how to write certain company names, including how to handle capitalization, punctuation and so on. Not all publications will agree on every company name and every situation, but in any case, it is usually consistent. (Wikipedia is probably an example of a publication that would have a lot of trouble maintaining consistency in this regard, because of the nature of how information is added to the site.)
    – Kosmonaut
    Feb 21 '11 at 0:09
  • @Kosmonaut: Right, I should add something about being consistent. The rules of specific pulications I'd like to put under "unless there is a specific reason not to". Funny that you should mention Wikipedia. I remember I once began correcting the titles of a series of pages about some government policy; then I was reverted by another editor who told me that, unfortunately, those wrongly spelled words were the official names in the official documents, and that it was Wikipedia policy to keep such names. I disagree with this policy, but I had to fold, of course. Feb 21 '11 at 0:18

The exclamation mark in Yahoo!'s brand name can be annoying when it interferes with existing punctuation. One way to disambiguate is to drop it altogether, while another way is to use quotes:

So, did they reach a deal with “Yahoo!”?


Yahoo! is the name of the entity so ending a sentence with 'Yahoo!.' and a question with 'Yahoo!?' is appropriate, as weird as it may seem.


You should omit the period. Only include the period in the absence of otherwise final punctuation, such as ! or . (as in etc.) or ? — and see how I skirted the issue here? :)

Edit: If it bothers you, it would be easy enough to switch the order: "... Yahoo! and Gmail."

  • 2
    Omitting the period is wrong in my opinion. Now the sentence is "These methods have been used by spammers to set up thousands of accounts on free email services such as Gmail and Yahoo!"; this gives an exclamatory effect and I assume that's not what the author had in mind.
    – Nishant
    Feb 20 '11 at 23:06
  • I am not sure if I should consider the '!' as punctuation in this case, as it's part of a name.
    – user3406
    Feb 20 '11 at 23:09
  • I see that is wrong in your opinion. This is just where you and I differ.
    – Robusto
    Feb 20 '11 at 23:09
  • @Radek: It's too ambiguous. If I had read that sentence myself before seeing this question, I would assume the emphasis since I forgot Yahoo normally has an exclamation mark after it. Feb 20 '11 at 23:36