English is used all over Europe in (more or less) academic papers and books that are not necessarily related to reviews and publishing houses based in UK or US, and that are not necessarily intended for UK or US markets. English is largely used between non-English speaking areas as lingua franca.

What is the main trend in this field concerning the use of British vs American English?

Are there certain guidelines (or even EU directives) on the matter?

  • Is this a question about English Learning?
    – Maulik V
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 11:15
  • @MaulikV - you may say it's about learning in relation to English: where & what English to speak
    – cipricus
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 21:30
  • 1
    Most English natives are used to reading either and likely won't be bothered either way. It's important to know though that mixing the two can be jarring so consistency is far more important than the choice of the two.
    – Martin Døssing
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 23:33
  • @MartinDøssing - not only native English are able to read in both but anyone who can read English. Even more than the native speakers, the foreign speaker might not notice the difference (if aware of it) and are even less bothered by it. But the question asked is different.
    – cipricus
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


There is no real trend. In my experience it depends upon the author of the document and upon the aims of the document.

If a European business is preparing a document for use in a variety of English-speaking markets then they usually use American English. If a document is targeted at a specific market they use the form appropriate.

If no specific target or decision is made, I have seen documents written in whichever version of English is most comfortable for the author. This depends on how they learnt.

Academic works usually have to comply with the style guide of the publisher. Most academic journals have quite detailed style rules which are imposed upon articles and papers that they publish.

As for EU documents, I am not aware of any EU directive, but the English forms of most EU documents are prepared by British citizens which may affect the outcome.

If your question is intended to ask which version you should use in an upcoming document, I would check if there is a style guide to which you should comply. Otherwise do as you think best.

  • a lot of documents, articles, comments, reports that can be found on EU websites are not made by UK speakers, which in time lead to a sort of euro-English, which may be subject of jokes, but which will continue to exist. Europe will become better at speaking English, but I think there's a need for a "certified" form of international English
    – cipricus
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 14:46
  • the broader problem of Euro-English is more interesting (but amounts to a different question). I found a discussion on the English used within European institutions here. A 66-page article that I have not read yet, but which says: "our publications need to be comprehensible for their target audience, which is largely British and Irish, and should therefore follow a standard that re- flects usage in the United Kingdom and Ireland". But the target is often not British or Irish.
    – cipricus
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 14:53

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