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labor, labour

Labor in American English, labour in British English.


Local area network, a network of computers contained in one physical location.


The entry on localization touches on websites in other languages. Here the question is which form of English to use—American, British, or even Australian? Unless the website is aimed specifically at a national or regional audience, use the most inclusive language possible. For an international audience, therefore, it is more prudent to use American English, as most of your readers will be familiar with this. People who use British English are generally familiar with American English and will recognize it as such. Therefore, you will offend fewer people by using American spelling and style conventions. We’re not saying that American conventions are right and British conventions wrong (whichever you were taught as a child will seem right), rather we’re suggesting a pragmatic approach.

Of course, if your website is designed specifically for people in the British Isles or in nations that were members of the British Commonwealth, you should use British English.

The main differences between American English and British English are

  • Date style: American English generally places the month before the day so what in British English is 3 August 2001 (3-8-01) in American English is August 3, 2001, (8-3-01). Note the commas surrounding the year. If you include the day of the week, follow it by a comma:

    Thursday, August 3, 2000, was the day he died.

    See dates.

  • Punctuation: American English uses the serial comma—place a comma before the “and/or” in a series of three or more items (this is generally not used in British English). American English always places the closing quote after the period or comma (but not after the dash, colon, or semicolon). For example

    “I’m not much of a fan of ‘the king,’ as she calls him.”

    British English, on the other hand, generally places the closing quotation mark after the period or comma only when the quoted matter is a grammatically complete sentence. See comma, quotation marks.

  • Quotation marks: American English generally uses double quotes (“ ”), whereas British English generally uses single quotes (‘ ’). See quotation marks.

  • Spelling: While it might look like a huge task to learn all the differences in spelling, remember that your spell checker will do a lot of the work for you.

This list is not exhaustive, but it does highlight the main differences to watch out for. Remember that not all ise endings change to ize, etc. Consult a dictionary when in doubt or use your spell checker.

American British Example (American)
ize ise capitalize
am amme gram
ay ey gray
ck que check, checkered
e ae archeology
e oe fetal
er re fiber
eu oeu maneuver
f ph sulfur
ing eing aging
l ll traveler, traveled
ment ement judgment
og ogue dialog
ol oul mold, smolder
or our color
ow ough plow
sk sc skeptical
Other changes
first, second (in enumerations) firstly, secondly 
forward forwards 
toward towards 
last name surname 

language and geographic navigation

Language tends to be a political and emotive issue. Approach language navigation with sensitivity. Where a website is broken down by country or region, geographic navigation allows the reader to choose a country or region. It may be that in certain circumstances, geographic and language navigation can merge. For example, if you choose Germany, you are also sent to the German language version.

If a website has more than one language, then language navigation needs to be provided. If a substantial majority of the readers use one language, then the homepage can default to this language. You can include the other languages in a separate language-navigation bar on the homepage. On pages other than the homepage, you can provide a drop-down menu. If you have a lot of languages—more than five—you can use a drop-down menu on the homepage rather than the language-navigation bar. If no one language is used by a substantial majority of the readers, a preliminary page needs to be created where the reader is asked to choose their preferred language.

It is not recommended to use a flag icon to signify language, as flags are for nations and don’t always appropriately describe the language. For example, Canada has two official languages: French and English. Instead, use the native description for the language. For example, for German use “Deutsche.”

See also [navigation]

last updated

This information is normally presented in the footer of a page, informing the reader of when the page was last changed, thus giving an indication of how up to date it is. For example, “Last updated: July 10, 2001.” However, this information has lost a lot of credibility because many websites use software code to automatically change the date, regardless of whether the page itself has been changed. Not recommended.

See also [dating documents and summaries]

laying out a document

See [website layout and design]
layout and design

See [website layout and design]

The lead is the opening sentence, paragraph, or paragraphs of an article. The different approaches to introducing a piece of content fall into two categories, direct and indirect. Direct leads are straightforward introductions to the text that follows, such as

There is a right way and a wrong way to begin a Web article …

Indirect leads typically begin with quotes or anecdotes. On the Web, simple, direct leads are usually best.

See page 3.

leased line

Permanent private telephone connections leased by businesses from telecommunications companies. Also called a “dedicated line.”

less, fewer

See [fewer]

A false and malicious published statement that damages the reputation of a person or organization. Libel law varies widely from one nation to another. A statement that’s clearly permissible in the US, for instance, may be clearly libelous in Great Britain. Within the US, libel law varies widely from state to state. Libel law is highly complex, and is sometimes arcane.

Every publication, online or off, should have an awareness of libel issues and a policy regarding them, and all writers and editors must be familiar with it. Any negative statements about individuals of organizations should be carefully examined to see whether they are potentially libelous, and reviewed by an attorney if there are any questions. It is customary at many publishing companies to have an attorney or paralegal read everything before it’s published.

On the Web, the Libel Resource Defense Center (www.ldrc.com/ldrcinfo.html), a non-profit organization of publishers from different media, provides information on libel issues. Offline, The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law is a standard reference for journalists in the US, and there are many handbooks and guides dealing with libel issues from national and international perspectives.

See also [corrections]

line length

Readers have trouble following text that’s set in very wide columns. Although the optimal line length will depend on the overall page layout and font size used on your site, in general lines should be narrower than 10 words (about 70 characters). Most print magazines use columns that are shorter still—seven or eight words per line (50 to 65 characters).

See also [word processors]

link title

A device that helps the reader know where they will go before they click a link. For example, let’s say the following text exists on a page: “Peter James has an extensive bio, having worked and written about the electronics industry for twenty years.” With link text, if the reader rolls their mouse over the bio link, they might see extra text such as, “Also allows you to buy books by Peter James.”

However, the vast majority of links should be self-descriptive and therefore would not require a link title. Link titles should not be used as a crutch for poorly termed classifications or badly written text.


A link (or hyperlink) connects one element in a hypertext document and another element within that document, another file, or script. Links are what make the Web fundamentally different from other media.

A key principle of linking is that the reader should know, if possible, what sections of the website they have already visited and what sections they have not. That is why links change color. All textual links should use the standard industry underline format, blue for unclicked, purple for clicked. Creating different colors for links only confuses the reader. Never underline text that is not a link, as this also confuses the reader. Ideally, text links should be presented on a white background. If, for design reasons, other colors are required, these should be light. Never use dark blue, purple, or black backgrounds.

Never have something linking to itself (circular linking) as that’s just wasting readers’ time.

Linked text goes to an HTML page. If that is not the case, inform the reader upfront; for example, if the link leads to an audio file. If the link goes to a password protected area, tell the reader.

See also [link titles]
See also [getting linked]


An operating system based on the open-source approach to programming. Linux was invented by Linus Torvalds. In a number of situations, Linux is seen as a viable alternative to the Microsoft operating systems.

See also [open source]


In a displayed list, it’s a matter of style whether the list stem should have a colon or not. We’d recommend not using a colon unless it’s required by grammar.

The colors on the American flag are

1 red

2 white

3 blue

Whether list items begin with a capital and have end punctuation depends largely on the length and content of the items. For example, if the list items are fragments, they should start with a lowercase initial and have no end punctuation. If the list items are full sentences, they should start with a capital letter and have end punctuation. If they are very long, they could start with a capital letter and have no end punctuation (where they are not full sentences). Apply the same format to each item in the same list and the grammatical form of each item in the list should not change.

See also [colons]


Localization is the process by which a product—or in the case of a website its information architecture and content—is altered so that it is appropriate for another culture or language.

Do not automatically assume that everyone speaks English on the Web. Language can be a very sensitive and political issue (just ask the French or Canadians). It is also predicted that by 2003 almost 70 percent of ecommerce spending will originate outside the US. According to the Aberdeen Group, “if a product or website is not optimized for international transactions, the logistics of marketing to an international market can be crippling, with return rates as high as 46 percent for all products sold internationally.”

Localization is not simply a matter of translating text but also of rewriting content, restructuring the classification, and writing new content specifically targeted at your new audience. Professional localization can be an expensive process. Having part of a website in another language is like having a second website, with all the related management and running costs.

When designing a website that is going to be localized, avoid creating graphics and images that have text in them, as this will make the localization process more time-consuming and expensive.

See also [language]

log in, login

Log in as verb, login as an adjective (and noun):

Use your assigned login name to log in to the server.

Similarly with log on (verb) and logon (adjective); log off (verb) and logoff (adjective); and log out (verb) and logout (adjective).

Some writers use these words as a noun, but it is largely frowned upon.

Nonstandard: You will be prompted for your password during login.


A logo is a name, symbol, or trademark designed for easy and definite recognition. Because of bandwidth and screen space constraints, logos should be small. On the Web, you brand with your content rather than your logo. See branding.

All logos should link to the homepage they signify, except when the logo is already on the homepage in question, where it should not be a link. (Never have something linking to itself (circular linking) as it’s just wasting readers’ time.)

Logos should follow the rules for graphics.

long documents

See [website layout and design]
Love Bug

The Love Bug virus damaged companies worldwide when it hit in May 2000. The virus used Microsoft’s popular Outlook email program to propagate, and spread rapidly owing to its enticing I LOVE YOU message in the subject field and the fact that recipients were disarmed into thinking that the mail came from somebody they knew. Once the attached program was activated, it quickly replicated itself by automatically sending copies to those listed in the recipient’s email address book.

See also [virus]

lowercase, use of

See [capitalization]



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