Writing in English or American

Should we write in American English or English English (as I like to call it) on our blog posts. It feels kind of odd writing in American English, particularly using color instead of colour.

You can see more on the dialects here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_English. I live in a commonwealth country and we use the same English and people do from England, I am also biased in that I grew up in the UK. I think even HTML was founded by an English chap but colour is still coded as color in the then HTML property.

What should we do and why?

For the record I am using American English because it’s the spellchecker on my WP site and I feel the Internet’s main form of English. Would make an interesting argument if search engines differentiated between the two of them, considering search engines take synonyms into account.

I would have thought the answer was obvious. You write in the language or style of the audience you are addressing. If your blog is aimed at Americans, use American vocabulary and spellings. If it is aimed at Britons, use British words and spellings. If it is aimed at non-English speaking people, use whichever style you feel most comfortable with.

Using a particular variation just because that’s the one offered by your spell-checker doesn’t sound like a good policy. It’s up to you to decide how you want to write. If the spell-checker doesn’t support that, either get a different spell-checker or do without.

One other point, it’s not a choice between American and “English”. Although some people might disagree, American is English. If you meant the type of English that they speak in the UK, then the term is British. You might not think that matters, but where I live there are a lot of people who say it does.


Just noticed, your from Scotland. :slight_smile:

Off Topic:

Lovely place may I add. I like Edinburgh, I went to the museum there.

It’s all about the audience, but what if your audience is everybody, what if you’re a global audience. What type/variation of English would you use in such examples? I have been looking at mashable and they use American-English because their audience is everybody. The founder Pete Cashmore is also from Scotland, so you can see where I am getting at.

This is really an issue of spelling rather than language. Spelling—strictly speaking—is not a language issue. (It’s just the graphical representation of language, which is different.) Use whatever spelling you are most comfortable with. If you feel your main audience is in the US, placate them with their own spelling, like the SitePoint editors do. :slight_smile:

… okay, but why are more websites using American spelling rather than English. I will be using American spelling on my site, but irrespective of this there are more people who use the internet with the English spelling rather than the American, and with the greatest respects to any Americans out there, there are probably more countries that recognize the English spelling rather than the American. I completely agree with your statement of sticking to the audience, but the it’s hard to ignore than many British websites :slight_smile: are using American spelling who strive for a global audience.

use Canadian English – it lets you spell words colourfully and does not insist that you standardize anything

what’s more, both the yanks and the limeys like it



You ask why more sites use American spelling than British spelling. That’s probably because the sites you are looking at are either written by Americans, or for Americans, or both. But that doesn’t have anything to do with what’s right for your site.

For your site, you’ve got to use whichever is most natural for your audience. If the audience is truly international, then use whichever is most appropriate for the nature of the site. For example, as a journalist, I write articles for American magazine publishers. I always use American spelling, and I try to write in an American “voice”. But in my own blog, which tells of my experiences as a resident of Edinburgh, I naturally use British. In this forum, I use British spelling because the audience is completely international, and I don’t see any reason to favour one over the other.

Also, please stop using the word “English” as meaning something other than American. As I tried to explain earlier, American and British are both forms of English - as are many others. American and English are not mutually exclusive.


You completely crack me up! :rofl:

I agree with RalphM. Aside from the fact that you are less likely to make a mistake in your own “graphical interpretation” of the language, a big part of writing is the integrity of the author. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t just to “fit in”. We Americans can handle “colour” and “honour” (although standardise does give us a turn :D) but just like any people we can’t handle dishonezty (sp on purpose – it’s a joke!) Although not a heinous crime, if you are British and writing in “American” it does smack of dishonesty (there I do know how to spell it!).

When I write for a British company, I use a British spell checker. When I write for an American company, I write in American English and I generally ask those outside of the US which flavour they prefer.

By the way… another important part of writing is to be consistent (just like I have here) in whichever vernacular you choose.

I personally write in English because American and not British American because it is easier to optimize in that way. When my customized wordpress blogs hit the keyword requirement, it can also lure customers to my page and I can inform them on my products and services - and that is the whole point of Internet marketing.

another important part of writing is to be consistent (just like I have here) in whichever vernacular you choose.

Consistency is important. I don’t mind using color, honor and standardize. I think many of us have grown accustomed to American British (or whatever the term might be) and it’s not really an issue for me or my blog.

Thanks Miki and ShyFlower for your advice. I will write with American English spelling, there aren’t that many words anyhow which are different. Looking at the table I use most. American TV (Friends, Friends etc.) has made most of us use those words without knowing. http://www.textfiles.com/fun/brittish.txt

Care to elaborate on that? Who are you targeting?

Just like everything else, write for your targeted reader.

If your writing as yourself as a commonwealth citizen then use your natural spelling. If your writing for a British site then use the Queen’s english and if your writing for an American site or an American audience then use the American spelling.

Personally, I doesn’t really think it makes much of a difference to most readers your spelling may end up acting as an “accent” on the net but in the end it is no different than talking to somebody from AustralIa or Scotland.

and remember that your <> you’re in all versions of english

I’ve learnt British English at school, but it seems like Firefox’s autocorrection doesn’t really enjoy it. So I find myself writing a ‘mixture’ of languages right now. Fortunately there’s not such a huge difference anyway :smiley:

I think beyond which one you pick, the importance is to be consistent. Don’t have color in one sentence and colour in another sentence.

Also, just for the record, you can change which version of English your browser spell checker checks. =p

That’s a good question, hah. Never really thought about it, although I myself written tons of articles. I guess I’m writing in American English, because I live in American. But really, is there that much of a difference?

There are the obvious spelling differences (eg color/colour), there are some grammar and punctuation differences (eg, whether the sentence punctuation goes inside or outside the closing quote marks), and there are also vocabulary differences (eg sidewalk/pavement). They’re not huge differences, but they are noticeable – the important thing is to be consistent. If you’re writing for an international audience, it doesn’t matter too much which one you use (although obviously British English is better :)), but whichever one you use, stick with it. I find it more jarring and off-putting to read something that flits between American and British than something written entirely in American.

part of the reason may be that much of the website software originates from the US, also Microsoft etc have American English set as their default language and most people never bother changing it.
If you are selling truely globally, ie to Asia & Africa rather than just Europe & the US, then English English should be tha language you use as a greater proportion of your potential customers will have learnt this

Pretty much that and the fact that there are more internet users in the US. Honestly, just use what you’re familiar with, no one really takes offense to an extra vowel every once in a while. Also keep in mind that most of the things are translatable with little effort just avoid Torch for flashlight if you expect American readers, that one can get iffy.

I am British and I dont care how people spell color, or colour, aluminum, or aluminium etc… I think we should just beware of the double meaning words (purse,trunk,bonnet,fanny) That can be controversial