Differences between British English and American English: Get it right with Paperpal!

Differences between British English and American English

The language of your research papers plays a key role in academic publishing and can determine the visibility and reach of your scholarly publications. English has long monopolized scientific publications, comprising almost 95% of published academic text, and remains the lingua franca for research publications worldwide. This means that compared to research papers published in regional languages, manuscripts published in English-language journals are more likely to have a global readership and increased visibility, consequently contributing to more readership and citations. Researchers who decide to publish in English must, however, know that the language is not the same around the world. There are nuances based on the region it is spoken in, for instance the difference between British English and American English.1,2 

British English and American English

Two standard variants of English have the lion’s share in the publishing industry: British English and American English. The other lesser used variants are Australian English, Indian English, Singaporean English, New Zealand English, etc. Most international peer-reviewed journals publish manuscripts in native English—either American English or British English, but not a mix of both. While British and American English differ at four major aspects—spellings, vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar [phrasal verb usage], spelling differences stand out prominently in scholarly publications.3Figure 1 shows the most frequent spelling variations between American English and British English.

                                Figure 1: Spellings differences between American and British English.3

Adhering to a specific style of language in academic writing

Most journals offer authors the flexibility to choose a specific style of English (American or British) to write their manuscripts. But even the journals that permit both styles of English recommend authors avoid using a mixture of both British and American spellings within the same paper. MS Word provides a convenient option to select the language style under the Language option. This is often the simplest way to adhere to a specific English style during manuscript writing. Running a native MS Word spellcheck after drafting your manuscript or during proofread ensures consistency in English spelling usage. However, this approach is manual and could be labor-intensive. Furthermore, technical terminologies specific to a subject area might not be identified or corrected by MS Word’s native spellchecker.

Enter Paperpal

Paperpal is an AI-powered tool that provides extensive English language and grammar error correction. An essential function of Paperpal is the ability to provide suggestions specific to British English or American English. There are two ways in which you can leverage this functionality: (a) on-the-go while writing your manuscript using Paperpal for Word, or (b) by uploading the completed manuscript on Paperpal Preflight.

Paperpal for Word provides authors with the ability to choose their preferred English style. Once the recommended English style is selected, Paperpal continually scans the text on-the-go and flags language issues. This provides authors with a solution to correct English spellings in real-time, while ensuring that either American or British English is used consistently throughout the paper. Authors can select their language preference by navigating to the Settings option of Paperpal inside their Word document (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Selecting the English preference in Paperpal inside MS Word.

Paperpal Preflight

For completed manuscripts that are ready for submission, Paperpal Preflight is a convenient tool to assess adherence to a specific English style. Upon manuscript upload, Preflight detects the language style automatically and runs a spellcheck on the entire file. It then highlights words that do not adhere to the recommended English style, so that authors can identify and correct the same.

Shown below are few examples of US/UK variations in published literature (Figure 3).

                                Figure 3: Identification of spelling variations by Paperpal

So, the next time you are writing your paper and are perplexed by the journal’s choice of English and how to identify the difference between British English and American English, turn to Paperpal. As your AI-based writing and academic editing assistant, Paperpal helps solve this problem with a click of a button. With the latest in language automation, Paperpal is the simplest, fastest way to consistently create high-quality academic content. Experience the advantages of Paperpal today!


1. Torres, A. The importance of the languages of scientific publications (2017) Available at: https://www.revistacomunicar.com/wp/school-of-authors/the-importance-of-the-languages-of-scientific-publications/ [Accessed September 2, 2022].

2. Bell, K., Mills, D. What we know about the academic journal landscape reflects global inequalities. Impact of Social Sciences (2022). Available at: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2020/10/12/what-we-know-about-the-academic-journal-landscape-reflects-global-inequalities/ [Accessed September 2, 2022].

3. Rahim, M. A., & Akan, M. F. (2008). British and American English: A Comparative Study of the two Varieties. Journal of the Institute of Modern Languages British and American English: A Comparative Study22, 09. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/43670875/Journal_of_the_Institute_of_Modern_Languages_BRITISH_AND_AMERICAN_ENGLISH_A_Comparative_Study_of_the_two_Varieties

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