“ou” versus “o” in spelling words like “color”/”colour”

Often, I have to decide whichever is better in mail, forums, letters. For instance:

  • colour vs color
  • flavour vs flavor
  • behaviour vs behavior
  • humour vs humor
  • rumour vs rumor
  • honour vs honor
  • armour vs armor

The difference comes certainly from the country of origin of the writer — basically Americans write o and English people write ou. Please confirm that.

(By the way, all the words left side are underlined in Firefox, since the spell-checker is set to “American English”)

What I would like to know — from a non-native English speaker’s perspective — does it really matter, nowadays with the new technologies and international exchanges, to make a distinction between “ou” and “o”?

Does it hurt the reader if they are both used in the same text, mixing colour and honor, or even worse, colour and color?

What is the current trend?


You’re correct that “o” is US and “ou” is non-US. It’d be considered bad style to switch between them in the same text. Generally, you should just choose one style and use it consistently, and you will be understood. I’ve heard a rule that if you’re writing for a mostly American audience, you should use the American spelling, and otherwise use the international forms, but that may not even be necessary.

One place that mixing styles is allowed is when quoting verbatim from text, or in technical literature where spellings must be retained exactly:

I asked him what colour he wanted, and he said “I’m no good at picking colors”.

The color: #ffffff; property indicates a text colour of white.

Source : Link , Question Author : Breaking not so bad , Answer Author : Laurel

Leave a Comment