Writing Tools

30 Canadian Spellings


In general, use Canadian spellings. Consult this list for first-choice spelling preferences for Canadian and other words and terms.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

a.m./p.m.
Aboriginal (preferred to “Indian” and “Native”)
acknowledgment (no “e”)
Act (of Parliament; u.c., roman)
AD/BC (small caps, no periods; AD 5, 12 BC) [Note, however, that in most current texts CE and BCE are preferred style.)
advisor (not -er)
aging
AIDS (no need to spell out)
Alzheimer’s disease
analgesics
analogue
analyze
anti (close compound except when word begins with an i or capital letter, or if word may be unclear or looks awkward)
anti-anxiety
anti-inflammatory
attention deficit disorder, ADD
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD
attorney general (no hyphen; u.c. when used as title)
audioconferencing
axe

B

baby boomers
barbecue
backup (n. and adj.)
B.C. (the province)
behaviour
benefited
benzodiazepine
best-seller list
Bill (u.c. when referring to legislation)
breastfeeding, breastfed
breast milk
burnout (n.)
bylaw
bypass
by-product

C

cabinet (l.c.)
café
calibre
caregiver, caretaker
catalogue
CD-ROM
cellphone
centre
chair (not chairman or chairperson)
checkup (n.), check up (v.)
cheque, chequebook
child care
childbearing
cigarette
clawback
cleanup (adj., n.)
clear-cut (adj.)
co-author
co-chair
co-director
coexisting
co-founder
cognitive-behavioral therapy, CBT
co-infection
colour
co-management
common sense (n.), commonsense (adj.)
cooperate
coordinate
co-payment
cost-effective, cost-effectiveness
counselling, counsellor
co-worker
Criminal Code
cross-examine
cutoff (adj.)

D

data (may be plural or singular, but be consistent)
database
data set
day care (n.), day-care (adj.)
decision-maker (n.)
decision making (n. phrase)
decision-making (adj.)
de facto (no italics)
defence (n.)
dependant (n.)
dependent (adj.)
desktop
diarrhea
dietitian
dos and don’ts
dropout (n.)

E

e.g. (follow with comma)
e-learning
email
emphasize
endeavour
endpoint
end-stage (adj.)
end-user
enroll, enrolled, enrolling, enrollment

F

favour
fetus
fibre optic
field test
fieldwork
first aid supplies
First Nations
firsthand
flare-up (n.), flare up (v.)
focused, focusing
…fold (close compound and spell out number used, “twofold,” “twelvefold”)
follow-up (n., adj.), follow up (v.)
front-line (preceding adj.)
fuelled
fulfill
full-time
fundraising

G

glamour
governor general (no hyphen; u.c. as title)
Grade (1, 2, etc.)
grey

H

halfway
hand washing (v.), hand-washing (adj.)
hands-on (adj.)
health care (n. or adj., open)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus; never HIV virus)
HIV/AIDS (no need to spell out)
HIV-positive
honorary
honour
hotline

I

i.e. (follow with comma)
Indian (see “Aboriginal” “Non-Status” and Status”)
Indo-Canadian
inpatient
in-service
instalment
Interior, the (of B.C.)
Internet
intra (close compound except when word begins with a or when word may be unclear or looks awkward)
intranet

J

judgment

K

kg (sing. and pl.), but use only with measurements; otherwise spell out as kilograms

L

labelled, labelling
labour
layperson
legislature (but B.C. Legislative Assembly)
licence (n.), license (v.), BUT: when referring to a formal open license agreement note the use of “s”
lieutenant governor (u.c. when used as title)
life cycle
lifelong
lifesaving
life stage
lifestyle
lineup (n.), line up (v.)
litre
login (n.), log in (v.)
long-lasting
long-standing
long-term, longer-term (adj.)
Lower Mainland

M

makeup (n.)
manoeuvre
medallists
mental health (n. or adj., open)
meta-analysis
Métis
metre
mg (sing. and pl.), but use only with measurements; otherwise spell out as milligrams
midlife
Ministry of Health, MOH (not “MoH”)
modelling
mL (sing. and pl.), but use only with measurements; otherwise spell out as millilitres
multi (close compound when word begins with consonant, “multidisciplinary,” “multispecialty”; hyphenate with vowel, “multi-authored”)

N

nationwide
Native people (“Aboriginal” and “First
Nations” preferred)
neighbour
neonatal
non (close compound except when word may be unclear or looks awkward)
non-Aboriginal
nonprofit
nonresidents
nonsmoker

O

offence (n.)
ongoing
online
on-site (adj.)
oriented (not “orientated”)
outpatient
overeating
overprotective
overrepresented
overuse, overused

P

Parliament
payoff
per se (not ital.)
percent
policymaker
post (close compound except when word may be unclear or looks awkward)
Post-it Notes
postgraduate
postsecondary
post-traumatic
PowerPoint
practice (n.), practise (v.)
pre (close compound except when word begins with e or if word may be unclear or looks awkward)
predeceased
pre-existing
preventive (not “preventative”)
prioritize (not “priorize”)
program, programmed, programming
province-wide
publicly (not “publically”)

Q

quasi- (hyphenate compound except in rare cases—“quasicrystal”)

R

raison d’être (no ital.)
randomized controlled trial, RCT
re (close compound except when word may be unclear or looks awkward; re-emerge, reissue)
reassessment
real-time (adj., no quotation marks)
rebuild
re-create (as in “create anew”)
re-evaluate
reinstate
risk-benefit ratio

S

seatbelt
Sea-to-Sky Highway, corridor
secondhand
Section (of legislation)
sexually transmitted infection, STI (preferred to “sexually transmitted disease, STD”)
shock wave
shortcut
shortsighted
side effect (always open)
sizable
skeptical
skillful
SkyTrain
smart phone
sociocultural
socioeconomic
specialized
spinoff (n.)
Status Indian
sub-Arctic
sub-Saharan Africa
subspecialties
subtypes
sulphur

T

telehealth, telemedicine
time frame
toward (not “towards”)
travelled, travelling
T-shirt
tumour
TV
type 1 and 2 diabetes

U

under way (adv., two words; adj., one word)
underfunded
under-represented
underserviced
up-to-date (adj.)
U.S. (when used as an adj. or in a table/figure; otherwise spell out)
usable
user name

V

videoconferencing
video-imaging (n.)
vis-à-vis
vitamin C
voicemail

W

wait list (n.), wait-list (v. and adj.)
walk-in clinic
wavelength
web, the
website
well-being
West Nile Virus, WNV
West Side (of Vancouver)
Western society, Western world, Western Canada
widespread
Wi-Fi
workday
workforce
workload
workout
workplace
workup
World War I, II
World Wide Web
worldwide

X

X-ray

Y

Z