English language and editing · Uncategorized

Lesson 61 Proofreading: American or British spelling?

To New York or to London?

Happy New Year! This is our first lesson of the year and we are excited to be returning with more exciting lessons this year. Keep your fingers crossed as we continue our journey to language perfection this year. You are warmly welcome.

It’s been a while since we shared some proofreading tips with you and since that is the main work we do, we will be sharing one today. Today, we look at the differences between British and American spellings (though they are both English).

Is it important at all? Have you ever written a letter that you thought was perfect only to have your spellchecker underline certain words? You check their suggestions only to realize they are only giving you similar spellings of the same word. Fear not, you could be suffering from Americo-Brito spelling confusion (That’s an expression I coined myself)! You cannot imagine the number of words underlined as being incorrect by my spellchecker while preparing this lesson- all my examples.

Knowing the difference is especially important for academic work and even non-academic work since you are not always able to predict your audience or their impression after reading your document. Whether you choose British or American spelling style, it may not really matter. Consistency is the key.

So what is the difference? Note here that we are not talking about different words referring to the same thing such as boot and trunk. We are talking about very similar spellings of the same word. The general rule to remember is that Americans prefer simple spellings and tend to write what they hear.

Confusion No. 1: “re” or “er”

American English writes er (that is what is heard) and British writes re. For example

  • Meager –                   meagre
  • Center –                   centre
  • Meter –                    metre

Confusion No. 2: “o” or “ou”

American English uses o where the British use ou. For example:

  • Color             –              colour
  • Neighbor –              neighbour
  • Favor      –             favour

Confusion No. 3: “…zation” or “sation”

Americans use the z and British the s. For example:

  • Organization –                 organisation
  • Marginalization    –                  marginalisation
  • Stigmatization –               stigmatisation

Find out from your organization which spelling type they expect you to use. I know that in Ghana, for example, the British spelling is recommended in academic circles. Send us more of your examples with some of the differences.

We hope this lesson was useful. Catch us next week for another interesting lesson. Kindly contact us to do any proofreading or editorial work for you. If you have plans of publishing a book, we could help you out too. We also do designs and draft proposals and business plans. That’s us!!!

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