Is it ‘bp’ or ‘BP’? Make your mind up

I’m grateful to Michael Ridd for taking me to task over the use of ‘bp’ and ‘BP’ in bps news, and he makes an interesting suggestion. Michael writes: ’Many, perhaps most, members of this society were employed by a company known the world over as BP. But then, in recent years, the company changed its name to bp. Those lower-case letters look fine above the green and yellow trademark at a filling station, but when they appear in the text it is less satisfactory, looking at first like a misprint.

‘Throughout the pages of the August newsletter, both bp and BP appear, and even our society is referred to on some pages as bp society and on others as BP Society. Might not the members of our society prefer a simpler approach to our old company’s name, by restricting the lower-case bp to the logo and retaining the upper-case BP where the company’s name appears in the text?’

I fully acknowledge that I use bp and BP in the newsletter but I do have a particular reason for doing so.

In common with many large organisations, bp has its own writing style guide. The guide lays out the bp house style for spelling, grammar, presentation and formatting. It is regularly reviewed and updated. One of the changes introduced in the July 2020 guide was the use of lower case bp as the default standard across all communications and documents unless the legal entity name is used, that is, BP p.l.c.

In order to be able to produce this newsletter and to use the bp helios on the front cover, I need to adhere to the writing style guide and bp’s other brand guidelines. However, I do make one particular exception. I will continue to refer to ‘BP’ in an historical context, for example, where I am including a member’s own memories of working for BP. If I have failed at any time in following this distinction, then I apologise.

Turning to Michael’s point about the use of ‘BP Society’ and ’bp society’, I think this usually happens in the ‘Events’ section. While I would prefer the use of ‘bp society’ throughout the newsletter, many regions still have bank accounts in the name of the ‘BP Society’. I do not propose to ask all the treasurers to change their account names and so will live with the anomaly.

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