A Defect In The Style Guide

The Wall Street Journal changes its capitalization of eBay depending upon where it appears.

For example, look at the print edition:

Different capitalizations of eBay

Or this article online: Carl Icahn Boosts Stake in EBay:

Carl Icahn slightly boosted his holdings in eBay Inc. by about $25 million in the fourth quarter, according to the activist investor’s latest quarterly filing.

Let’s look at the discrepancies and inconsistencies:

  • In the print edition headlines and drop quotes, only the E is capitalized.
  • In the online story, both the E and the B are capitalized in headlines.
  • When it appears at the beginning of a sentence, both the E and B are capitalized.
  • When the word appears in the middle of the sentence, it is appropriately capitalized as eBay.

This is a style guide issue, as the inconsistent capitalizations are consistent in where they’re inconsistently capitalized.

This doesn’t seem to be a bigger issue regarding trademark capitalization, as iPhone is capitalized correctly, at least online: ‘Staggering’ iPhone Demand Helps Lift Apple’s Quarterly Profit by 38%:

Apple Inc. surpassed even the most bullish Wall Street expectations for its holiday quarter with an improbable trifecta: selling more iPhones at higher prices—and earning more on each sale.

It looks as though the corporate style guide could use a little correction. How about yours?

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