|This page in a nutshell: Destination guides should be written in the local variant of English. If the destination has no history of using English and no clear preference for a variety to use, US English is used.|
This is a guide on issues of spelling and punctuation.
National varieties of English
Wikivoyage prefers no major national variety of English over any other. American English and British English differ in vocabulary (truck vs. lorry), spelling (center vs. centre), date formatting ("April 13" vs. "13 April") and very occasionally surface grammar. Australian, Indian, Irish, New Zealand, Pakistani, Singaporean and South African English are almost identical in spelling to British English, and Canada mostly uses those spellings as well. These varieties are often collectively called Commonwealth English.
Some words are unique to a variety; in such cases, it's useful to gloss the meaning or the equivalent word in another variety in parentheses immediately after the first occurrence ("some drivers charge extra for the use of the trunk (boot) of their cab"). Here, trunk and boot might not be known in some varieties, although cab and taxi are probably so widely known everywhere that it's not worth bothering with an explanation.
But it's no big deal. Don't worry if you're not familiar or comfortable with a particular variety of English. Just write in the style you're accustomed to, and eventually someone will come along and check it for you. However, it is generally seen as bad style to change the spelling without rhyme or reason or - worse yet - edit war over such trivial things as spelling.
The rule of thumb for articles related to the following countries is:
- United States: American English
- Canada: Canadian English
- Australia: Australian English
- Liberia: American English
- New Zealand: New Zealand English
- Ireland: Irish English
- South Africa: South African English
- United Kingdom and most Commonwealth countries: British English
- Malta Maltese English
- Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, all of South Asia and large parts of Africa: British English
- Israel, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan: US English
If the destination has no history of using English and no clear preference for the variety to use, we prefer US English spelling. This isn't because US English is somehow better or to stomp on the rights, heritage, and cultures of other English-speaking countries. We just have decided to pick one default spelling style for consistency. One exception to this is the preference for the British "traveller" rather than the American "traveler" in Wikivoyage documentation—this dates back to the origins of the site.
Reference guides for US spelling
- Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Wiley Hoboken, NJ
- Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Springfield, Mass.
- National Geographic Atlas of the World, National Geographic Society, Washington DC
- CIA World Factbook
Some proper names do not follow spelling or punctuation conventions. Write them as they are used. Don't change them to conform to spelling conventions.
- Joaquin Miller's home, "The Hights", rests on the heights of the Oakland hills.
- King's Cross, St James's Park and Barons Court are London Underground stations.
It can be helpful to other editors to use an HTML comment to mark unconventional spellings in proper names:
* '''Café Art's<!-- sic -->''' - a popular cafe in the Paquis neighborhood of Geneva.
- See also: Wikivoyage:Foreign words
In general if there is a genuine need to use a foreign word, the spelling you'd encounter at the destination should be used. For instance "Strasse" when talking about a Swiss destination, but "Straße" when talking about a German or Austrian place.
Plurals should not have apostrophes (unless the result is ridiculous).
- "1800s" not "1800's"
- "apples and oranges" not "apple's and orange's"