Words to look for when changing spelling

February 25, 2008

Recently I had to change the user documentation for a software product line from US English to Australian English. While ‘find and replace’ in most word processing or help authoring applications will get these, it helps to know what you have to find!

Here’s a list of the words I had to check; no doubt many more exist, but these were the main ones used in these applications:

  • authoriz- ==> authoris-
  • organiz- ==> organis-
  • realiz- ==> realis-
  • customiz- ==> customis-
  • maximiz- ==> maximis-
  • minimiz- ==> minimis-
  • analyz- ==> analyse
  • synchroniz- ==> synchronis-
  • finaliz- ==> finalis-
  • recogniz- ==> recognis-
  • visualiz- ==> visualis-
  • optimiz- ==> optimis-
  • centraliz- ==> centralis-
  • initializ- ==> initialis-
  • emphasiz- ==> emphasis-
  • standardiz- ==> standardis-
  • color ==> colour (same for labour, endeavour, behaviour, etc.)
  • gray ==> grey
  • model- (e.g. modeler, modeling, modeled, etc.) ==> modeller, modelling, modelled
  • label- (e.g. labeled, labeling) ==> labelled, labelling
  • catalog- ==> catalogue
  • licens- (NOTE: Australian English has ‘licence’ for the noun, and ‘license’ for the verb and the adjectival form; so, it’s a ‘software licence’ and ‘drivers licence’ but a ‘licensing model’ or ‘licensed software’)
  • practis- (NOTE: Australian English has ‘practice’ for the noun, and ‘practise’ for the verb and adjectival form; so, it’s a ‘medical practice’ but ‘practising medicine’)
  • program remains as program!
  • center ==> centre
  • -meter ==> -metre

Even with ‘find and replace’, this is still a big job as you have to make sure you don’t get words that legitimately should be spelled a certain way (e.g. size, advertise).

Update (28 April 2008): Wikipedia has a good article on the fundamental differences between US and British spelling:

Update (29 September 2012): HUGE list of some 1800 UK/US spellings: http://www.tysto.com/uk-us-spelling-list.html. This page describes the principal differences: http://www.tysto.com/2012/05/uk-vs-us-spelling/

And more:

For Author-it users

I’ve tried variables, which work OK if there are only a few words, but changing the spellings for an entire library was painful… While variables may have helped, this was to be a permanent change, so I just made the changes directly.

However, Mike Levey from FundaMedia, another Author-it Certified Consultant, has come up with a good solution using variables that I’ll have to try I’ve just tried. It works really well and there’s really only about six variables to set up, each with two nested variable options. Here’s his information:

You can set up a series of nested variables that will enable you to cater for different spellings in English. I have an example (put together a while ago for a training example) that shows how, just by assigning a value of either EN or US to a variable, the required spelling is automatically selected throughout the document. It does require that you be aware of the different usage, and insert the variables as needed—but it’s a useful example of the power of Author-it and variables. The example is at:
http://www.fundamedia.com/authorit/english-us_spelling_example.pdf. Not the best approach if you’re using the Localization Manager as well.


  1. Useful. very useful. looking forward to more posts like this one.

  2. Thanks for that lovely list of words.. most helpful.. Nikki

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