Comparison of Australian, American and British spelling conventions

Where British and American spellings differ, Australian spellings may reflect one or the other, sometimes inconsistently. Most often they follow the British conventions.

The table below compares common variations in Australian, British and American spellings.

For scientific terminology, follow the preferred spelling of an internationally accepted authority rather than using British or American spelling per se. Several chemical terms have different spellings in British and American English (eg aluminium/aluminum), for which the preferred spelling of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry should be used. See Spelling in chemistry for further details.

Spelling variation






Generally drops e (eg lovable) but retains e in newly formed words (eg saleable)

Retains e when the verb ends in -ce or -ge (eg enhanceable, changeable)


Generally drops e


Uses ae (eg at the beginning of a word or in the first syllable (eg aesthetic, faeces)

Uses e in the middle of a word (eg encyclopedia)

Uses ae

Uses e


Uses -ed ending for verb past tense (eg he spelled it)

Uses both -ed and -t for past participles (eg it was spelled, it was built)

Uses -t for adjectives (eg spoilt, burnt)

Uses -t for past participle and adjective

Uses -ed for verb past tense and past participle


Generally drops e

Retains e when the word ends in -ge (eg ageing, hingeing)


Drops e


Uses -ise

Uses both -ise and -ize

Uses -ize


Uses ll with 2-syllable verbs whether the first or second syllable is stressed (eg enrolled, travelled)

Uses ll with 2-syllable verbs, whether the first or second syllable is stressed

Uses l on the second, unstressed syllable of a verb when -ed, -ing or -er is added (eg canceled, traveler)

-ment (verbs with -dge)

Drops or retains e (eg acknowledgment, acknowledgement)

Generally retains e

Generally drops e


Uses oe (eg amoeba, oedema)

But fetal has become standard in medical usage (eg Fetal Medicine Association of Australia)

Uses oe

Uses e


Uses -ogue (eg catalogue)

Uses -ogue

Uses -og


Uses -our (eg flavour)

Uses -our

Uses -or


Uses program for all contexts

Uses program when referring to software, and programme for all other contexts

Uses program for all contexts


Uses -re (eg centre, metre) except for words that are measuring instruments (eg gasometer, pedometer)

Uses -re except for words that are measuring instruments

Uses -er for all such words


Uses -se for verbs (eg practise) and -ce for nouns (eg practice)

Uses -se for verbs and -ce for nouns

Uses -se for both verbs and nouns


Uses -yse (eg analyse)

Uses -yse

Uses -yze

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