Should a brand name be italicized when used in a MLA-style paper? For example, tin he following paragraph:

Future Shop, which offered technology supplies, was closed and in an statement the CEO wrote "We regret to inform you..."....

should Future Shop be italicized, as in this example:

Future Shop, which offered technology supplies, was closed and in an statement the CEO wrote "We regret to inform you..."....

I have an MLA handbook but cannot find if I should italicize or not.

  • 1
    I don't know about the italics, but "an statement" should be "a statement". If the brand is a trademark or a registered trademark, it seems to me that one could "bug" it (tm) or (r) and leave it in Roman type. But I don't use MLA, so don't trust what I say. Oct 19, 2015 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, second edition (1998), touches on product and company names only once, as far as I can tell, and in that instance it doesn't italicize such names:

6.8.10 An Advertisement

To cite an advertisement, state the name of the product, company, or institution that is the subject of the advertisement, followed by the descriptive label Advertisement, neither underlined nor enclosed in quotation marks. Conclude with the usual publication information.

Air Canada. Advertisement. CNN. 1 Apr. 1997.

The Fitness Fragrance by Ralph Lauren. Advertisement. GQ Apr. 1997: 111–12.

It seems to me that "Future Shop" in your example corresponds either to the product name "The Fitness Fragrance" or to the company name "Ralph Lauren" in the second MLA example. And since MLA neither italicizes nor puts quotation marks around either of those names, I would surmise that you shouldn't do so with "Future Shop" either.

  • From Meta: 'What questions are on-topic and off-topic here?': {Off-Topic} How do I make this (citation, document, quote, whatever) conform to MLA (or APA, or any other) style guidelines? Mar 28, 2016 at 19:46
  • @EdwinAshworth: One person commenting on the suggestion that questions about conformity to specific style guidelines should be "off-topic" wrote: "Agreed, unless the relevant style guideline itself is manifestly ambiguous or self-contradictory." But in the present case, it seems to me that MLA provides no clear answer to the question the OP raises—so the OP's question falls into precisely the area that the commenter did not consider off-topic: an ambiguity. Beyond that, the vote on this type of question is 7–1 in favor of "off-topic" (I cast the vote against)—not much of a mandate really.
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 28, 2016 at 0:28
  • Major snags with questions relating to individual style guides are (1) style guides do not define standard usage (often disagreeing amongst themselves) though they (and more especially their adherents) (2) often seem to claim the authority to do so, and (3) many style guides are not freely available. Add in your (4) they can be ambiguous or self-contradictory, and it surely becomes clear that questions should be addressed directly to the editors. POB on various levels. May 1, 2016 at 16:41
  • @EdwinAshworth: I understand your reasons for opposing styleguide-specific questions—and I much prefer style questions that ask what the general lay of the land is in the semi-fictive world of style advice, where sometimes a strong preference for a particular style choice can be discerned across multiple guides. But I disagree that questions about a specific guide's preferences are impossible to infer in some cases where no explicit recommendation appears, and I think that answers to such questions can be useful to multiple readers. So we disagree about the baseline value of such questions.
    – Sven Yargs
    May 1, 2016 at 17:18

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