Playing with style: LEGO or Lego?

by andybechtel

lego

A recent letter to the editor took The News & Observer to task for the way it refers to this toy. The writer asserts that the proper way to refer to those colorful building blocks is LEGO. She also says that the plural form of LEGO is LEGO.

Not so fast, says my colleague Bill Cloud. He points to an entry in the AP Stylebook. Under “company names,” the stylebook advises: “Do not use all-capital-letter names unless the letters are individually pronounced.” So BMW, but not IKEA. Cloud argues that the style rule on company names should also apply to product names.

Some newspapers have their own style, of course, but The New York Times and Los Angeles Times are with AP on this one. Indeed, that’s how the LAT topics page on the toy does it.

Here’s what Henry Fuhrmann, assistant managing editor in charge of copy desks, standards and the library at the LAT, said in an e-mail about this question:

We do not have a formal style on the word itself. But our general style rule on acronyms would call for Lego. We capitalize the first letter of trademarks but otherwise follow our style rules in determining the capitalization of other letters. Similarly, in our style, NASA and ACLU are all caps, but the California Public Employees Retirement System is CalPERS.

Fuhrmann also said that a former colleague at the LAT would correct those who stuck an “s” on the word: “He is a traditionalist and a stickler and would always gently advise users that ‘Legos’ is incorrect.”

What do you think? Check out this discussion among Lego/LEGO fans for more.

(Creative Commons image by Craig Rodway)

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