Public Editor

Walmart or Wal-Mart?

A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store, which uses the logo with a star between the parts of the company’s name.
A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store, which uses the logo with a star between the parts of the company’s name. THE KANSAS CITY STAR

The biggest company and largest employer in the world is known by two slightly different names. And that’s unquestionably confusing.

A reader mailed me a photocopy of a recent page from The Kansas City Star with a brief about the opening of a new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store. He highlighted the name of the company in the story text, then drew a link to a related photograph on the same page. Its caption referred to “Walmart Neighborhood Market.”

True, it’s a difference only of a hyphen and a capital letter, but readers expect The Star to be consistent. Even if Wal-Mart isn’t.

The name of the company is Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Several years ago, they redesigned their logo to drop the two-part name. Now, in most of their literature and store branding, they’re Walmart.

But they aren’t entirely consistent about that. You don’t have to poke far through their own websites to see references to their official corporate name, such as the copyright notice at the bottom of this page.

And as the photo above shows, the company’s Neighborhood Market concept uses a logo with a star between the parts of the name.

In legal filings and other official business, it’s known as Wal-Mart, and that’s the name The Associated Press Stylebook says to follow. The Star conforms to the AP’s call — except when it doesn’t, as in the example sent to me by one sharp-eyed reader. I’ll underline the inconsistency with the copy editors.

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