Website Writing Guide

Grammar and spelling

Spelling

Areas covered in this section:

Spelling references

English versus American spelling

Frequently misspelled words

 

Spelling references

The Macquarie Dictionary is the standard reference for spelling in Australia. It is available online by subscription.

Always use the English (Australian) spell checker on Microsoft Word. However, remember that words that are spelled correctly, but incorrectly used, will not be picked up by the spell checker.

For example: The school principle - instead of - The school principal.

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English versus American spelling

Australia uses English spelling which varies in many respects from American spelling. Because American spell checkers are used by most word processors, American spelling is creeping more and more into usage in Australia. As information is often cut and pasted into Web pages the possibility arises of having both types of spelling on one page.

Always use the English (Australian) spell checker when writing and editing for Australian government websites or refer to the Macquarie Dictionary.

-ise/-ize endings

The -ize form is generally regarded as American usage, but is in fact originally English, now perpetuated mainly in America.

The -ise form is becoming increasingly common in England and has become the accepted form for Australian English. When in doubt, use the ending cited in the Macquarie Dictionary.

Some examples of the difference between English and American spelling:

  • American
  • Australian

judgment

judgement

labor

labour

canceled

cancelled

center

centre

check

cheque

color

colour

criticize

criticise

gray

grey

humor

humour

realize

realise

theater

theatre

tire

tyre

valor

valour

Note: Retain the American spelling when it is used in a proper noun or phrase, such as the name of an organisation or place. For example: ‘Australian Labor Party’ and ‘Victor Harbor’.

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Frequently misspelled words

The following is a list of commonly used words that are frequently misspelled:

A

H P

acceptable

harass

pastime

accidentally

height

perseverance

accommodate

hierarchy

personnel

acquire

humorous

playwright

acquit

I

possession

a lot (two words)

ignorance

precede

amateur

immediate

principal (head of a school)

apparent

independent

principle (a belief or moral)

argument

indispensable

privilege

atheist

inoculate

pronunciation

B

intelligence

publicly

believe

J

Q

 

jewellery

questionnaire

C

judgement

R

calendar

K

receive/receipt

category

kernel

recommend

cemetery

L

referred

changeable

leisure

reference

collectible

liaison

relevant

column

library

restaurant

committed

license (to permit)

rhyme

conscience

licence (a permit)

 

conscientious

lightning

rhythm

conscious

M

S

consensus

maintenance

schedule

 

manoeuvre

separate

D

medieval

sergeant

discipline

memento

supersede

drunkenness

millennium

T

dumbbell

miniature

thank you

E

minuscule

threshold

embarrass (ment)

mischievous

twelfth

exhilarate

misspell

tyranny

exceed

N

V

existence

neighbour

vacuum

F

noticeable

W

fiery

weather

foreign

O

weird

G

occasionally

gauge

occurrence

grateful

guarantee

 

Other topics in this section

Guide Home | Grammar | Spelling | Tricky words and phrases |

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