As you can see on the Science Refinery Facebook page and Twitter feed, I’ve been having a lot of fun editing the particular paper I’m on right now. In addition to the amusing (I promise I never point them out in a mean-spirited way!) errors, the authors often use British English spellings though they specifically requested I edit everything according to American English conventions.
One that got me tripped up was seeing “counselling” without Word’s squiggly red underline. As a psychologist, I’m pretty used to reading it as “counseling.” As has become my standard, I went off to Google Ngram Viewer to investigate.
First, let’s take a look at American English:
Oh good, I’m not crazy.
Now let’s see what’s up with the British:
So how did I deal with this situation as the editor? I mean, the authors weren’t technically wrong, but their use of the uncommon spelling variant could be jarring for an American audience and be an indicator of their “outsider” status. I left the following comment: “In American English, the spelling ‘counseling’ is much more common. Whatever you choose, please be consistent in your use throughout the manuscript.”