Wikivoyage:Spelling

This is a guide on issues of spelling and punctuation.

National varieties of EnglishEdit

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.

International English Spelling Chart
United States Canada United Kingdom UK (Oxford spelling) Australia
color colour colour colour colour
center centre centre centre centre
globalization globalization globalisation globalization globalisation
realize realize realise realize realise
analyze analyze analyse analyse analyse
traveling travelling travelling travelling travelling
defense defence defence defence defence
computer program computer program computer program computer program computer program
concert program concert program concert programme concert programme concert program
gray grey grey grey grey
fulfill fulfil/fulfill fulfil fulfil fulfil
aluminum aluminum aluminium aluminium aluminium

Reference guides for US spellingEdit

WordsEdit

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

Place namesEdit

Proper namesEdit

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 namesEdit

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

Foreign wordsEdit

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.

ApostrophesEdit

Plurals should not have apostrophes (unless the result is ridiculous).

  • "1800s" not "1800's"
  • "apples and oranges" not "apple's and orange's"

Cafe vs. caféEdit

As a general rule of thumb, omit the accent when using American, Australian and South African spellings. Keep the accent when using British or Canadian spellings. However, as a rule of thumb, if a place name that uses British or Canadian spelling omits the accent, omit it in the name, and same vice versa. The accent guideline only applies when not used in names.

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 and American spellings.

Francophone countriesEdit

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 alsoEdit