I just saw someone edit the title of this question to change the spelling from favourite (The British spelling) to favorite (The US-English spelling).

Does Stack Exchange have an accepted standard on language and spelling? Which is it?


4 Answers 4


Does Stack Exchange have an accepted standard on language and spelling? Which is it?

For bodies, no. For tags, US-English.

Titles don't actually need to be consistent (tags absolutely do!), but if you think anyone might want to search for a question then you would do well to use the more common spelling - whichever that might happen to be...

Note that changing the spelling of language keywords or identifiers to match the spellings actually used by the relevant language or library is very much appropriate!

  • 1
    I would suggest that it is equally important for titles because that's what people search for. Unless the search algorithm is clever enough to automatically handle multiple alternative spellings. Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 17:52
  • 31
    Google's search is. SO's search isn't.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 17:55
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    Google's search is smart enough to know that win2k is the same as "windows 2000" Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 18:28
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    @DisgruntledGoat: I dunno. That sounds pretty smart to me.
    – beska
    Commented Dec 1, 2009 at 18:18
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    I typed in "PHP" and Google knew I needed Stack Overflow.
    – Herbert
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 15:05
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    What if we use a tag from a British work (say [defence-against-the-dark-arts]) and set up a synonym in American English? This would solve the problem of having AE is autocomplete, and respect the original spelling. (See the relevant discussion here) Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 18:48
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    Naturally I wrote this before there were any sites where "language keywords" weren't a sufficiently obvious caveat, @Gallifreyan... But given there now are, I'd say you'd want to extend that concept to whatever you're working with; for a book, it's how the author spelled it (unless it's one of those fantasy books where all the character names have accent marks, since those aren't usually allowed in tags). For places, same deal with the caveat that lots of places have multiple "official" names and spellings. Use synonyms where multiple commonly-used terms mean the same thing.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 21:22

At the risk of starting torrents of angry comments, I'd say the correct one is whichever one the OP uses. It is acceptable to fix spelling and grammar errors in someone's response, but if you feel that their favourite spelling of 'behaviour' colours your judgment, then I'm afraid they should just get over it.

It is not acceptable to change American to British spellings or British to American.

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    I quite like that suggestion. Although it risks causing problems in searches unless the search algorithm is clever enough to handle alternatives. Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 17:51
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    it's important to have a standard tags, but for the body of a post, doesn't matter so much. Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 18:57
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    "It is not acceptable to change American to British spellings or British to American"? Why not?
    – Gary S. Weaver
    Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 18:57
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    I agree about tags, also if you are using a Color from .NET it should always be Color but that's because it's a typename and not a preference. But I'm strictly talking about anyone who would change the spelling when it is simply sitting in the body of someone's post.
    – devinb
    Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 18:58
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    When spelling is changed in the body of the post, there is an implication that the original spelling is incorrect. When it's not a keyword, both British and American spellings are correct - there are plenty of dictionaries to support either spelling.
    – pavium
    Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 21:10
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    Now that we have tag synonyms, I'm on board with this. Have a completely unnecessary -- except that it gets you to the brink of [Populist] -- upvote.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 14:51
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    It doesn't seem possible to correct between American and British spelling? I tried to change "someones" to "someone's" but was presented with "Edits must be at least 6 characters"! Meaning that the odd extra "u" or an "s" in place of "z" should be safe unless they appear more than half a dozen times. ;)
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:58
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    @Mikaveli if you have enough rep you can do those sorts of edits. Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 17:40
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    Is there an easy way to tell a contributor who edits many things for spelling and grammer[sic] to stop "fixing" British spellings?
    – Eris
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 23:57
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    @Eris like this guy..
    – geotheory
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 14:07
  • What about things like brackets (British) != brackets [US]...stackoverflow.com/a/5332421/106092 Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 11:11
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    @Martin Words that could be ambiguous should always be clarified. So the edit that changed "brackets" to "parentheses" is good, though "round brackets" would also work. If we were talking about square brackets, it'd be a bit more complicated since most programming languages use American terminology so just call them "brackets", but that could be confusing to Brits.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 4:01
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    From Bracket: "Specific forms of the mark include rounded brackets (also called parentheses), square brackets, curly brackets (also called braces), and angle brackets (also called chevrons) ... In most English-speaking countries, an unqualified 'bracket' refers to the round bracket; in the United States, the square bracket." Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 11:34

Whou cares? If it's nout spelled wroung by a standard, leave it aloune. If it's spelled "faveurt", then fix it tou whichever spelling you prefer.

If anyoune gets tied up intou a knout about the spelling of wourds like this, youu can tell me and I'll schououl them at TF2. If TF2 is unavailable I am quite capable of schououling in a wide variety of activities, such as using the louou, riding the lift tou my flat, our standing oun the kerb and inspecting a car's tyres.

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    Surely if you don't have an accepted standard you'll get into editing cycles where it gets changed back and forth between the two. I originally noticed that the question had been changed once already because I instinctively went to correct it to favourite. Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 17:51
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    I'm saying don't get into edit cycles. It's not worth it. Let the sillywhistles who would edit those things do what they want. Report them and let them get banned for it.
    – Welbog
    Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 17:52
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    FYI: I am Welboug nouw.
    – Welbog
    Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 17:55
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    You should go old english. I cast my vote for "Ye Olde Wellebouge". Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 23:48
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    I hate this answer and love it at the same time.
    – byxor
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 6:57

Both spellings are correct, for some definition of "correct". So I say let it go. No need to get into edit wars over correctly spelled words.

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    Well both the -ise and -ize suffixes are accepted in British English. Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 22:54
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    @Disgruntled - this is demonstrably not true, however a British audience will tolerate US spelling where a US audience will not tolerate British spelling, essentially a factor of US cultural and in particular software exports over the last however many years.
    – bananakata
    Commented Sep 30, 2009 at 6:08
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    @bananakata: the OED approves -ize, even if the British public generally do not. Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 15:53
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    @bananakata: pernicious nonsense. In a US audience, 90% won't even know what the correct US spelling is. And the other 10% are also the ones who watch BBC shows, so they'll be cool with it. Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 3:01

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