1

Generally in fiction writing, you don't italicize company names (even though you would italicize the name of a newspaper).

But what do you do if the company name is fictional, especially a name that is not a real word (Like Schwaye). Italicizing it would make it clearer to the reader that it is a name (and not a typo). It would also make the name easier to read.

What happens if the text has a mix of fictional and real world company names (e.g. the BBC and Schwaye). It seems a bit odd to have a mix of italics and roman.

Example:

Alice would always go to Adam's restaurant.

[Couple of chapters later]

After leaving Adam's, Angela checked her email. She had got a message from Schway, the famous social network, which was even bigger than Facebook or Twitter.

versus:

Alice would always go to Adam's restaurant.

[Couple of chapters later]

After leaving Adam's, Angela checked her email. She had got a message from Schway, the famous social network, which was even bigger than Facebook or Twitter.

I'm not sure but I feel it might read easier with italics (especially Adam's)

  • 1
    It's not standard practice or anything. Are you asking whether you can do this? Did you get the idea anywhere in particular, or is it your own solution to the problem of recognizing fictional company names? – Standback Mar 22 '16 at 17:50
7

Company and brand names are not set off in italics, period. It's irrelevant whether the name is real or fictional.

The kinds of names/titles which do take italics:

  • Publications (newspapers, magazines)
  • Books
  • Albums
  • TV shows
  • Movies
  • Court cases

May or may not take italics depending on house style:

  • Newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Videogames

But there's no reason to italicize the name of a brand (Apple, Pepsi), social network (Twitter, Facebook), or restaurant (Le Bec Fin, McCloskey's). These are names of products, services, or establishments. You are establishing what the named item is in context, and by the capital letter(s). For example:

We picked up an apple at the store.

We picked up a Mac at the store.

We picked up a mackintosh at the store.

The first is a piece of fruit, the second a computer, and the third a raincoat. It takes very little to make that clear, and italics aren't necessary. Calling attention to the fictional nature of your product or service will only be a distraction and make your reader wonder why you're calling it out.

Italics in fiction can be used to indicate thoughts (internal dialogue, or telepathy if your story has it) and foreign languages.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    These are common pitfalls that can be solved by picking yourself up a style guide like The Chicago Manual of Style. You may also use italics to stress a word to a reader, but it shouldn't be overdone: "When I say I love chocolate, I mean I love chocolate." – Stu W Mar 22 '16 at 13:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.