When we proofread documents for our business clients, we often find that writers don't know how and when to use an apostrophe. Today, let's explore some rules about using an apostrophe when writing the names of organizations and products that contain words that could be considered either possessive or descriptive terms.
As a rule, use an apostrophe if the term is a singular possessive noun or an irregular plural noun.
- Harper's Bazaar
- Women's Wear Daily
- Ladies' Home Journal
- Reader's Digest
- Children's Hospital
- Levi's jeans
- Reese's Pieces
Do not use an apostrophe if the term is a regular plural.
- American Bankers Association
- Chemical Workers Union
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Government Employees Insurance Company
In all cases, follow the organization's preference when known.
- Investor's Management Services, Inc.
- Lay's potato chips
- Diners Club membership
- Thomas' English muffins
- Mrs. Paul's frozen foods
- Taster's Choice
- Folgers coffee
- Bakers Choice
- Lands' End catalog
When adding the sign of the possessive to a phrase that must be italicized or underlined, do not italicize or underline the possessive ending.
- Gone With The Wind's main characters
- The Wind in the Willows' author
Source: The Gregg Reference Manual