If an Australian writer writes a story based in America or another country that uses American English, should you change your spelling to American English, or continue using British English? Is this more of an editing technicality, or is this something that the writer needs to be mindful of?

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    Under what context? For general narration (and is this first person or third person? Limited or omniscient?), for characters' speech, for in-universe writing, or for something else? Jun 4, 2020 at 14:53
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    I am an American. If I wrote a story for an American audience set in a country that used British spelling I would use American spelling, except for signs, news papers, emails, and other written stuff that the characters read. And I would try to have the British characters used British expressions. If I was writing for publication in Britain only I would try to use British spelling. Jun 4, 2020 at 15:51
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    If you were writing a book that took place in France, and the book was for an Australian audience, would you write the book in French, or in English?
    – Juhasz
    Jun 4, 2020 at 18:29
  • I'm so sorry for the late reply. If this is written in third person limited or omniscient, how would this work?
    – N.Houghton
    Jun 25, 2020 at 14:09

4 Answers 4


A lot of people mentioned this in the comments to your question, but the easiest answer to this question is to write in the style that your audience will understand it best. If you are writing for Americans, you should write it in American English. If you are writing for people who are reading British English, use British English.

This includes yourself. If you plan to be reading your story, you should write it in the English style you are most comfortable with. Especially if you do not fully understand the conventions of writing one way vs. another. It could be more confusing for your readers and for yourself if you learned how to write in British English and you try to write a whole story in American English because the story takes place in America.


Write your book that feels natural for you, and the differences between American and British English is really trivial, like the use of the "u" in certain words. Just tell a really compelling story and your audience will forget that it's written in British English.

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    Right up until someone gets hit by a car while standing on the pavement, wearing only their pants... (Pavement: Sidewalk (UK); Road (USA) / Pants: Underwear (UK); Trousers (USA)) Jun 5, 2020 at 7:52

Your question had been answered already. I just want to tell you that you focus on language that you and your targeted audience know. Let say you want to write American English, and you know not much about it, so will you continue with it? Let say you understand it very well what about your targeted audience? You look around your audience and consider them first before you. One of the Rules in the English language says Just Other first and yourself last{JOY}.


I think you should write in your voice. If you write/speak Australian, the spelling should reflect that. (Of course, if it is based in the US, you would not use Australian terminology foreign to the US.) By sticking to your native spelling you, a) identify yourself as having a specific origin. The reader will register this, but it will not detract from the story. And, b) you will avoid any mistakes that will definitely seem 'off' to the reader, thus exposing yourself as a fraud.

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