Does a Comma Go in Front of LLC?

By Edward A. Haman, J.D.

Does a Comma Go in Front of LLC?

By Edward A. Haman, J.D.

The question of whether to use a comma before "LLC" in the name of your limited liability company can be viewed in two ways: legal and grammatical.

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Legal Requirements for Naming an LLC

The main purpose of forming a limited liability company is to limit your personal liability for business debts, including contractual debts and civil court judgments. State laws governing LLCs require you to put those who do business with you on notice that your personal liability is limited. This is done by including "LLC," "L.L.C.," "Ltd.," or "Limited Liability Company" in your business name. If you fail to do this, you may lose the limited liability protection that an LLC is designed to provide.

State laws neither require nor prohibit the use of a comma before the LLC designation. Legally, you may use a comma before "LLC," or you may leave it out.

When you file your documents to register your LLC, the exact name you use in the registration document will be the official name of your business. Whatever punctuation you use in the registration document is part of the official name, and should be used consistently thereafter. For example, if you registered your LLC as "XYZ Consultants, LLC," don't ever use "XYZ Consultants LLC" (without the comma).

Be consistent with the name in advertising (including on business cards, the company letterhead, and the sign on your door), as well as on any invoices you use or contracts you enter into on behalf of the business.

Legal Risks

If you don't use the official legal name of your LLC, you could be opening yourself up to personal liability, or to having contracts declared invalid.

Personal Liability. If you don't use the official business name in your advertising or in a contract, someone you do business with can claim that you were not acting on behalf of your business. They can claim that they were dealing with you personally, and can try to go after your personal assets in a lawsuit for breach of contract, breach of warranty, personal injury, etc.

Contracts. If you deviate from the official business name in a contract, the party you enter into the contract with can claim that they don't have a contract with your business, and possibly avoid their obligations under the contract.

Grammatical Style for Naming an LLC

As a matter of grammar, you will be able to find "experts" who disagree on whether a comma should be used before "LLC." Some say that, since "LLC" is an abbreviation rather than a word, it should be preceded by a comma. Others, including The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style, say that a comma should not be used. However, in reference to an LLC that is in existence, the official company name as it is registered (with or without the comma) is what should be used.

As explained above, it is legally acceptable to register your limited liability company either with, or without, a comma before the designation "LLC" or "L.L.C." Once that registration is completed, be sure that you are consistent in using the exact name you registered, including all punctuation.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.