Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

April 29, 2011

-ise vs -ize in a formal name

Posted by : Michael Lund

What to do when writing about an organisation that has a z in its spelling where you would normally use an s if following the correct spelling adopted buy your country or news organisation?

World Health Organization

Organization or Organisation

Take the World Health Organization. Organization takes a z where the Macquarie Dictionary recommends an s for day to day use of the word organisation. (Okay, it also includes the z option second but most style guides say you should always adopt the first spelling offered in the preferred dictionary.)

Yet time and time again I read about the the World Health Organisation. What is this body? A rival to WHO?

World Meteorological Organization

Organization or Organisation

I'm reading now about the World Meteorological Organization and many is the author who refers to it as the World Meteorological Organisation.

There are plenty of texts on what to do when using such a word in general use. The Australian (and British) preference is to adopt the -ise option over -ize in most spellings. There are warnings though with many guides pointing out the accepted spelling of capsize. (Who says capsise?)

But there is little guidance on what to do when the word crops up in a formal name for an organisation.

My preference is to use the spelling given in the formal name. To do otherwise seems disrespectful to the organisation ... and potentially opens a can of worms.


Vodaphone or Vodafone

Should I correct other perceived misspellings in names so Vodafone becomes Vodaphone?

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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.