Wikivoyage:Spelling

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This is a guide on issues of spelling and punctuation.

National varieties of English[edit]

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. Indian, Irish, New Zealand, Pakistani, Singaporean and South African English are almost identical in spelling to British English, and Canada and Australia 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 cabs"). 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 clean it up. 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.

A map of which spelling is used for which country. Red is British, dark purple is Canadian, yellow is Australian, green is NZ spelling and blue is American

The rule of thumb for articles related to the following countries (and articles about regions, cities, parks, and itineraries within them) is:

The rule of thumb for the articles about the following continents is:

If the destination has no history of using English and no clear preference for the variety to use, we prefer American English spelling. This isn't because American 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 (however, there are some exceptions).

One exception to this is the preference for the British "traveller" rather than the American "traveler" in Wikivoyage project pages such as policy and guideline pages, expedition pages, and the name of the Wikivoyage:Travellers' pub. For articles, the general rule applies.

UK, Ireland, EU and most Commonwealth countries South Africa New Zealand Australia Canada United States
acknowledgement acknowledgement acknowledgement acknowledgement, acknowledgment acknowledgement, acknowledgment acknowledgment
aeroplane aeroplane aeroplane aeroplane airplane airplane
ageing, aging ageing, aging ageing, aging aging, ageing aging, ageing aging, ageing
all right all right alright, all right alright, all right all right alright, all right
aluminium aluminium aluminium aluminium aluminum aluminum
analyse analyse analyse analyse analyze analyze
artefact artefact artefact, artifact artefact, artifact artifact artifact
authorise, authorize authorise, authorize authorise authorise, authorize authorize authorize
café, cafe cafe café, cafe cafe café, cafe cafe
cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled canceled
catalogue catalogue catalogue catalogue, catalog catalogue catalog, catalogue
centre centre centre centre centre center
colour colour colour colour colour color
co-operation co-operation co-operation cooperation, co-operation co-operation, cooperation cooperation
defence defence defence defence defence defense
dialogue dialogue dialogue dialogue dialogue dialogue, dialog (conversation)
dialog (text)
diarrhoea diarrhoea diarrhoea diarrhoea, diarrhea diarrhea diarrhea
empanel, impanel empanel, impanel empanel, impanel impanel, empanel impanel, empanel impanel, empanel
encyclopaedia, encyclopedia encyclopaedia, encyclopedia encyclopedia encyclopedia encyclopedia encyclopedia
fjord fjord fiord fjord, fiord fjord, fiord fjord
foetus, fetus foetus foetus fetus, foetus fetus fetus
fulfil fulfil fulfil fulfil, fulfill fulfill fulfill
grey grey grey grey grey gray, grey
honour honour honour honour honour honor
jail, gaol jail, gaol jail jail, gaol jail jail
judgement, judgment judgement, judgment judgement judgment, judgement judgment, judgement judgment
kerb (roadside)
curb (restrain)
kerb (roadside)
curb (restrain)
kerb (roadside)
curb (restrain)
kerb (roadside)
curb (restrain)
curb curb
labour labour labour labour[1] labour labor
licence (n.),
license (v.)
licence (n.),
license (v.)
licence (n.),
license (v.)
licence (n.),
license (v.)
licence (n.),
license (v.)
license (n. and v.)
liquorice liquorice liquorice licorice licorice licorice
manoeuvre manoeuvre manoeuvre manoeuvre manoeuvre maneuver
meagre meagre meagre meagre meagre meager
mould mould mould mould mould mold
organisation, organization organisation, organization organisation organisation, organization organization organization
plough plough plough plough plow plow
practice (n.),
practise (v.)
practice (n.),
practise (v.)
practice (n.),
practise (v.)
practice (n.),
practise (v.)
practice (n.),
practise (v.)
practice (n. and v.)
computer program,
training programme
computer program,
training programme
computer program,
training programme
computer program,
training program
theatre program
computer program,
training program
computer program,
training program
pyjamas pyjamas pyjamas pyjamas pyjamas, pajamas pajamas
routeing, routing routeing, routing routeing, routing routing routing routing
sceptic sceptic sceptic sceptic skeptic skeptic
speciality speciality speciality, specialty specialty specialty specialty
sombre sombre sombre sombre sombre somber
sulphur sulphur sulphur sulfur, sulphur sulfur, sulphur sulfur
theatre theatre theatre theatre theatre theater, theatre
traveller traveller traveller traveller, traveler traveller traveler, traveller
tyre tyre tyre tyre tire tire
veranda veranda veranda verandah veranda veranda
vice
(fault and tool)
vice
(fault and tool)
vice
(fault and tool)
vice
(fault and tool)
vice (fault)
vise (tool)
vice (fault)
vise (tool)
vigour vigour vigour vigour vigour vigor
yoghurt, yogurt, yoghourt yoghurt, yogurt yoghurt, yogurt yoghurt, yogurt yogourt, yogurt, yoghurt, yoghourt yogurt

Reference guides for US spelling[edit]

Words[edit]

  • Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Wiley Hoboken, NJ
  • Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Springfield, Mass.

Place names[edit]

Proper names[edit]

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.

Corporate names[edit]

Wikivoyage does not follow all spelling idiosyncrasies employed by private corporations, particularly not when it comes to "corporate shouting", i.e. the practice to write the name of the company in ALL CAPS, which is considered touting.

Foreign words[edit]

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.

Punctuation[edit]

Apostrophes[edit]

Plurals should not have apostrophes, which are used for the genitive.

  • "in the 1800s"; "1920s Jazz Age"
  • "apples and oranges"; "apples' and oranges' taste"

Hyphen vs. dash[edit]

Not interchangeable

Do not use a single hyphen or a double hyphen (--) to stand in for a dash.

Hyphens (-) indicate conjunction. There are three main uses:

  1. In hyphenated placenames and personal names: Ivano-Frankivsk.
  2. To link prefixes with their main terms in certain, specific, constructions (ultra-expensive, non-negotiable).
  3. To link related terms in compound modifiers: gluten-free pizza.

Use dashes sparingly

They break the flow more than a comma does.

More than two in a single sentence makes the structure unclear; it takes time for the reader to see which dashes, if any, form a pair.

Dashes: Two forms of dash are used on Wikivoyage: en dash (–) and em dash (—). To enter them, click on them in the toolbar that shows under the edit window (it enables insertion of various characters and symbols), or enter them manually as:

  • &ndash; or &mdash; (or {{emdash}})

Dashes are often used to mark divisions within a sentence: in pairs (parenthetical dashes, instead of parentheses or pairs of commas) or singly (perhaps instead of a colon). Dashes can clarify the sentence structure when there are already commas or parentheses, or both. In this case, use either unspaced em dashes or spaced en dashes, with consistency in any one article. You may use the following template to add an en-dash with spaces:

  • {{snd}} (adds a spaced en dash)

Cafe vs. café[edit]

As a general rule, omit the accent when using American, Australian and South African spellings; keep the accent when using British or Canadian spellings. However, for place names, use the name as it is spelled, regardless of the local language variant.

Although resume and coupe don't have much use in a travel guide, follow the same rule of thumb. Use accents for British and Canadian spelling, and omit the accent in Australian, South African and American spellings.

Francophone countries[edit]

For a large number of French-speaking countries, particularly in Africa, we use American spelling per the "no clear variety" rule. However, for these countries, keep the accents of loan words, when that spelling is acceptable in American English.

See also[edit]

  1. Except in the name Australian Labor Party.