This list is not exhaustive: if you are unsure about the correct spelling for a term not listed here, please contact the Style Guide.
For scientific terms or terms specific to an academic discipline, please exercise judgment, taking guidance from academic colleagues where possible.
Be sure to retain consistency throughout a piece of writing.
British and US spelling
British spelling should be used when writing on behalf of the College, unless quoting a piece of text originally written using US spelling. Some examples of common differences are listed here:
- Prefer-ise/-yse/-isation to -ize/-yze/-ization. For example: organisation; rationalise; contextualise.
- Prefer -our to -or. For example: colour; armour.
- Prefer -re to -er. For example: centre; metre.
- Prefer -lling to ling; -lled to -led; and -ller to -ler. For example: travelling, travelled and traveller; modelling, modelled and modeller.
Plural or singular
Collective nouns such as group, team, department, faculty or staff, use singular verbs.
- The team has done great work this term.
- Next week, staff at Imperial celebrate Black History Month.
Foreign plural forms should be used where still in common use. Some examples are listed here:
Commonly misspelled words
- accommodate, accommodation
- adviser (advisor is correct,
- but more common in US English)
- affect (verb – to act upon/influence),
- effect (noun – result)
- alternative (another option), alternate (to take turns)
- commemorate, commemoration
- dependant (noun),
- dependent (adjective)
- ensure (make certain),
- insure (against risks)
- farther (distance),
- further (additional)
- foetus, foetal
- fulfil, fulfilling
- install, instalment, installation
- liaise, liaison
- practice (noun), practise (verb)
- programme/program (only in software context)
- stationary (not moving),
- stationery (pens and paper)