trademark & copyright symbolsDon’t use alphabetic substitutes

Your key­board in­cludes a trade­mark sym­bol (), a reg­is­tered trade­mark sym­bol (®), and a copy­right sym­bol (©).

WindowsMac OSHTML
trademarkalt 0153option + 2™
®registered trademarkalt 0174option + r®
©copyrightalt 0169option + g©

When you need these sym­bols, use them. Don’t use goofy al­pha­betic ap­prox­i­ma­tions like (TM) or (c)—an­other type­writer habit.

(c) 2020 MegaCorp (TM)wrong
© 2020 MegaCorp™right

Trade­mark sym­bols are set as su­per­scripts—smaller char­ac­ters po­si­tioned above the base­line of the text (Roxy’s Tacos™, Car­ing Is Our Busi­ness®). If you use proper trade­mark sym­bols, they’ll ap­pear at the right size and height. No space is needed be­tween the text and the trade­mark symbol.

Copy­right sym­bols ap­pear in line with the text (© 1999). Use a non­break­ing space be­tween the copy­right sym­bol and the year to en­sure the two don’t end up on dif­fer­ent lines or pages.

This instructional goatherding video is ©
2020 MegaCorp Inc.
wrong
This instructional goatherding video is
© 2020 MegaCorp Inc.
right

Must you put a word space af­ter the copy­right sym­bol? No, but it makes good sense se­man­ti­cally. The © di­rectly re­places the word copy­right, so it should be spaced like any other word. Trade­mark sym­bols, on the other hand, are more like lit­tle bar­na­cles of legalese—im­mov­able but mostly ig­nored. To think of it an­other way, if you were read­ing aloud the phrase “© 2020 Mega­Corp™”, you’d likely pro­nounce the © but not the ™.

by the way
  • Many word proces­sors au­to­mat­i­cally sub­sti­tute a sym­bol when you type (TM), (R), or (c). Con­sider turn­ing off this fea­ture, be­cause ref­er­ences like Sec­tion 12(c) can be silently con­verted to Sec­tion 12© . The spell-checker won’t de­tect this er­ror, and it’s easy to over­look while editing.

  • Copy­right © 2020 is re­dun­dant. Word or sym­bol—not both.

  • I al­ways use the non­i­tal­i­cized ver­sions of these marks, even if the ad­ja­cent text is ital­i­cized. I think it looks bet­ter. But that’s a pref­er­ence, not a rule.

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