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British or American English?

Decisions taken in this style guide are based on the standard usage of English in Britain and Ireland, called ‘British English’. This entails the use of British spelling but with the awareness that the presence of American spelling has an ongoing influence so be aware that many of the texts that you read in English use American spelling.

If for a particular reason, your text needs to be written in American English, the most important rule is to ensure that the spelling, grammar and punctuation are consistent with one type of usage.

BRITISH SPELLING in words such as: 'organise' 'organisation' 'realise' 'realisation'

We, at UT, use British standard English (without Oxford spelling).  That means we spell words such as organise using the suffix '-ise'.

Here's why:

Standard British English spelling rules use the suffix '-ise' to spell words such as organise, realise and summarise.  What is more, the spell checker on your computer, when set to British English, uses the suffix '-ise' to spell these words.

However, there are a number of exceptions to this spelling rule and this makes it particularly confusing.

First of all, note that American English uses the suffixes '-ize' and '-ization' to spell words such as organize and organization, so we often encounter this spelling in our reading.

But even more confusing: within the rules of British English, an additional exception exists.  The Oxford Dictionary, for example, uses (as the first spelling) the suffix '-ize' to spell words such as organize, realize and summarize.  This particular spelling with '-ize' is known as Oxford English (the Oxford Learner's Dictionary does also acknowledge the '-ise' spellings as correct, but does not place this spelling as its first spelling). Oxford English spelling, therefore, is an exception to the general spelling rules within British English.

For these reasons and for the sake of consistency and convenience, the UT English Style Guide advises the use of the -'ise' spelling of these such words:

capitalise capitalisation organise organisation summarise socialise realise realisation 

Simply set the spell checker to British English and all of this will be taken care of.

As a final note: we do acknowledge that this particular spelling recommendation will continue to be confusing, inconsistent and contentious. Although some international organisations prefer Oxford spelling, the University of Oxford itself advises the use of the '-ise' spelling in its style guide, stating: 'We prefer ‘-ise’ as it is more common in British usage and requires fewer exceptions'. 


University of Oxford Style Guide. "[PDF File]" Retrieved from