Always use the British spelling of words such as "colour", "travelling", "centre", and "analogue". This is a good guide to the ways British and American spellings differ. Note that BuzzFeed UK (like most UK publications) spells words like "apologise" and "realise" with -ise, not -ize.
aeroplane (not airplane)
African Caribbean (not Afro Caribbean)
afterwards, towards etc (not afterward, toward etc)
alright: perfectly alright as an informal variant of all right
among (not the old-fashioned amongst)
analogue: also catalogue, travelogue etc
any more (not anymore)
apologise: also itemise, realise, recognise, sympathise etc
Battle of Britain
bedroom tax: no need to put quotes around term
black-cab driver: for drivers of black cabs
'cos: for the abbreviation of because
Central line (also District line, Hammersmith & City line, Northern line etc)
Chas & Dave
centre (also fibre, litre, metre, theatre etc)
colour (also flavour, honour, neighbour etc)
cossie: colloquial term for swimming costume
courts, one-of-a-kind: the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal etc
courts, generic types: Harrow crown court, Caerphilly magistrates' court etc
disability living allowance (DLA)
disabled people (not people with disabilities, which is US style)
the Doctor: when referring to the protagonist in Doctor Who; different incarnations are known as the First Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor etc.
East End (but see next entry)
east London, south Glasgow etc
ecstasy (for the drug)
Edinburgh festival, Edinburgh Fringe, the Fringe, the festival
employment and support allowance (ESA)
euro, eurozone, Eurosceptic
football (not soccer)
grey (not gray)
home in (not hone in)
hospitals: Royal Free hospital, Hereford county hospital, St Thomas' hospital etc
judgment (not judgement)
LGBT (not LGBTQ)
licence (n.), license (v.)
London Overground, the overground
London Underground, the underground, the tube
maths (not math)
Metropolitan police, Yorkshire police, etc (but the British Transport Police)
Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms
national living wage (NLW)
no one (not no-one)
normality (not normalcy)
the north/south divide
offie: slang for off-licence, i.e., alcohol shop
on to (never onto)
paediatrics, paediatrician, paedophile, etc
per cent: Although use % unless a number starts a sentence and needs spelling out.
personal independence payment (PIP)
practise (v.), practice (n.)
programme (but program for software)
Ramadan (but Ramzan in India)
royal baby, royal family, royal wedding etc
storey (when referring to levels of a building)
taser (v.), tasered, tasering, Taser (n.)
TfL: Use Transport for London on first reference and then TfL for all subsequent references; not TFL.
the tube, the underground, but the London Underground
ton(s): colloquially, and for the specific UK ton measurement of 2,240 pounds
tonne(s): for the specific measurement of 1,000kg
Trades Union Congress (TUC)
travelling (also fuelling, modelling etc)
UKIP-er (for the term meaning supporter of UKIP)
union jack, union flag: The terms are interchangeable.
wars: Iraq war, second world war, cold war etc, but World War II, the Great War
the West Country
Wetherspoon's, Spoon's (J.D. Wetherspoon for the company name)
while (not the old-fashioned whilst)
year 7, year 11 etc (for UK school years)
Never use full stops ("periods" in American English) in acronyms, so write UK, US, UN, LA etc. Otherwise follow standard BuzzFeed style by putting all acronyms in caps unless they are more than five letters long, so write AIDS and BBC but Unesco and Unicef. Exceptions include TARDIS, TfL, and many government departments — see list of political terms for more.
Acronyms that will be familiar to an intelligent British audience do not need to be written out in full, especially if they're better known as acronyms. These include AIDS, BBC, CEO, CPR, HBO, HIV, ITV, MTV, PETA, PMS, TED, and UKIP. Use your judgment.
Nouns such as collective, committee, family, gang, generation, government, jury, and team can be singular, e.g., The government is launching a new initiative. They can also be plural, e.g., The government are squabbling. It depends on whether the noun is thought of as a single entity or a group of individuals. Follow common sense and be consistent.
Nouns such as couple, pair, and trio can also be singular or plural, but are usually plural when referring to people, e.g., The charming couple were sharing an ice cream.
In general, police forces are plural and "police" is capped down, e.g., The Metropolitan police are investigating..., Yorkshire police are investigating... . But they are singular and capped up when the force is being referred to as a single service, e.g., The Met is..., the Metropolitan Police Service is..., the British Transport Police is..., Police Scotland is, Norfolk Constabulary is... .
Do not use full stops (periods) in contracted words such as Mr (Mister), Dr (Doctor), Jr (Junior), St (Saint), and vs (versus).
Initial-cap court names when the institution is one of a kind, e.g., the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the European Court of Justice.
When the court type is a local or generic one, initial-cap place names only, e.g., Derby magistrates' court, Cambridge crown court, youth court, family court.
Always use the apostrophe in magistrates' court.
Dates and times
Write dates in the order of month/day/year. In most stories, format full dates as: Oct. 3, 1983. In features and essays, however, it is acceptable to spell out dates in full, e.g., October 3, 1983. Do not use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., in dates.
When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out the month when using alone, or with a year alone.
Write 9am and 10:35pm instead of 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m.
Cap specific defined regions such as the North East, the South East, East Anglia etc, and also cap conceptual regions such as the North, the South, the East End, and the West Country.
But decap nondefined regions and directionals, e.g., east London, north Glasgow, northeast Wales, the southwest of Scotland, eastern Europe. Also decap northerner and southerner.
In UK style, refer to disabled people rather than people with disabilities. This is in line with the social model of disability, which argues that people have impairments, not disabilities, and are disabled as a result of barriers put in place by society. Never use the term “the disabled”.
Avoid the US habit of dropping prepositions such as on and using likely to mean "probably", like this: "The meeting will likely happen Wednesday." This is perfectly acceptable in US English but ungrammatical in British English and should be recast like this: "The meeting will probably happen on Wednesday" or "The meeting is likely to happen on Wednesday."
Another US habit to avoid is using "with" to form phrases such as speak with, meet with, talk with etc. Instead, say speak to, meet, talk to.
Also: Don't say "protest a decision" — say "protest against a decision"; and don't say "different than" — say "different to" or "different from".
Job titles and honorifics
Do not cap up job titles. So write prime minister Theresa May, not Prime Minister Theresa May, and editor-in-chief Ben Smith, not Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.
Military and police ranks are treated as honorifics, so cap when used before a name at first mention, e.g., Colonel James Mustard (thereafter Mustard or the colonel), Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt or DCI Gene Hunt (thereafter Hunt or the detective chief inspector) etc.
Peers should be referred to by the name they're commonly known as at first mention, e.g., Shami Chakrabarti, by their title and surname at second mention, e.g., Baroness Chakrabarti, and from then on by their surname, e.g., Chakrabarti. If they're commonly known by their title, e.g., Lord Leveson, use title and surname at first mention and then subsequently just their surname, e.g., Leveson.
The title Dr should only be used for doctors of medicine or science.
Stick to US style for feet, inches, Fahrenheit etc.
For metric measurements, typically abbreviate like this: 9g, 9kg, 9km, 9cm, 9mm, 9ml etc. However, spell out litres and metres, so write 9 metres, 9 litres etc.
Write Celsius like this: 38°C.
99p, £10, £5 million, fiver, five quid.
Use € sign for euros rather than spelling out.
Northern Ireland, along with the three countries that make up the island of Great Britain, is part of the UK. It can be described as a country or a region, but do not call it a province. Also: Do not use Ulster as a synonym for Northern Ireland (part of Ulster is in the Irish Republic). Residents of Northern Ireland can be described as Irish, Northern Irish, or British, depending on their personal preference.
unionist = in favour of political union with Great Britain
loyalist = not synonymous with unionist, although also in favour of political union with Great Britain. Usually implies support for a level of paramilitary action towards that aim
nationalist = belief in the unity of the people of Ireland. Usually indicates support for a united Ireland
republican = usually indicates support for the right to use violence to achieve a united Ireland
See the Northern Ireland section below for a list of related political terms.
acts of Parliament are capped, e.g., Psychoactive Substances Act
the back benches, a backbench MP, a backbencher
bills before Parliament are decapped, e.g., psychoactive substances bill
Comprehensive Spending Review
Cobra (for the UK government crisis response committee)
Downing Street, Number 10, 10 Downing Street (not Downing St)
DUP, aka the Democratic Unionist Party
Eighth Amendment (the sides are Yes vs No or Repeal vs Retain)
freedom of information (or FOI) request
the front bench, a frontbench MP, a frontbencher
home affairs committee, transport committee etc
Home Office, Department for Transport etc
home secretary, transport secretary etc
Houses of Parliament, House of Commons, House of Lords, Palace of Westminster
mayor of London, mayor of Liverpool etc
member of Parliament, MP
party: usually lower-case (Labour party, Conservative party)
Prime Minister's Questions
UKIP, aka UK Independence Party
UKIP-er (for the term meaning supporter of UKIP), Kipper
Welsh assembly, London assembly etc
Government department acronyms:
Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS)
Department for Education (DfE)
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)
Department for International Development (DfID)
Department for International Trade (DIT)
Department for Transport (DfT)
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Department of Health (DH)
Foreign Office (FCO)
Ministry of Defence (MoD)
Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
First Minister's Questions
Holyrood (accepted shorthand for the Scottish Parliament)
member of the Scottish Parliament, MSP
SNP, aka Scottish National Party
Yes and No ("a group of Yes supporters", "she voted No")
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), aka Democratic Unionists
Good Friday Agreement
IRA (no need to write out)
Ireland, aka the Republic of Ireland or the Irish Republic (not Eire)
Londonderry (but for the city, Derry can be used for subsequent mentions)
MLA (member of the legislative assembly)
Northern Ireland Assembly, subsequently the assembly
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
Labor, Australian Labor Party, ALP
Parliament, Parliament House
a Leave vote, a Remain vote, but In or Out fine for headlines and quotes etc
avoid Yes or No outside of quotes
plural of referendum is referendums (not referenda)
Britain Stronger in Europe (aka Stronger In)
Grassroots Out (aka GO)
When fragmentary quotations are used, punctuation goes outside the quote marks, “like this”. If a whole sentence is included in the quote, “include punctuation. Like this.”
Never include sentence punctuation in song titles unless it is part of the song, so write “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction”, not “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.”
Always use double quotation marks (“like these”) in headlines/deks and copy. Single quotation marks (‘like these’) are used only for quotes within quotes.
When using an em dash for attribution, style like this: “Quote.” —Person Who Said Quote
In general, use metric measurements rather than imperial, and abbreviate them like this: 5g, 5kg, 5ml etc. Exception: Write out litres, like this: 5 litres, 1 litre etc.
For other measurements, keep a space after the numeral. Spell out teaspoon and tablespoon measurements like this: 5 teaspoons milk, 6 tablespoons sugar. Do not use cup measurements. Also note that certain everyday imperial terms such as pint are fine in the right context, such as if the recipe includes a pint of beer.
When describing cooking temperatures, always lead with Celsius.
For info on international differences in the names of foods, this is useful.
Titles such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or the Prince of Wales are capped at first mention, then subsequently decapped to the duke and the duchess or the prince. The exception is the Queen, whose role is always capped.
The Duke of Cambridge is also called Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, can also be referred to as Kate in headlines, deks, and lighter posts. She should never be called Princess Kate or Kate Middleton (her former surname), however.
Do not cap "royal" in phrases like the royal baby or the royal family.
The word "cunt" is far less offensive in British English than US English, and is non-gender-specific as a swearword. It does not need censoring in posts unless quoted in a headline, in which case write "c*nt". For more information on British swearing, see the BuzzFeed guide to UK swearword usage.
Miscellaneous cultural notes for Americans
• French fries are called chips and often served with fish. Potato chips are called crisps.
• The gelatin-based dessert Jell-O is called jelly, while the stuff added to peanut butter sandwiches is called jam.
• Noodles refer specifically to the long strands of pasta you get in East Asian cuisine.
• Soccer is called football. American football is called American football.
• Sports as a general topic is called sport. (Sports is only used to refer to a plurality of individual sports.) In contrast, math is called maths.