I mostly have exposure to American English online. I am currently writing out a resume and need some help.

In Australia, in general, we write programme to mean a schedule or community programme. However with computer studies I'm inclined to write program to mean a computer program rather than the proverbial programme.

What is the correct spelling?

  • 2
    "Program" if you are talking about a computer program is usually deemed acceptable in the UK.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Jan 3, 2011 at 13:58
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    Do IT literate speakers actually write "computer programme" at all? I thought the distinction was fairly clear: to a UK (IT literate) speaker, a "programme" and a "program" are simply different things. Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 10:49
  • Related fact: "dialog(ue)" is often/usually spelled with the "ue" in e.g. literature, but always without in "dialog box". Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 1:35
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    @Marcin As I say, to a computer-literate UK speaker I think they're "different things". In other words, say, a "Java program" and a "theatre programme" aren't subclasses of "the same type of thing". Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 20:29
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    Erm... on the basis that they're different things?!? Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 1:48

5 Answers 5


We reference the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

In British English, we write television programme and computer program.

In American English, we write television program and computer program.

  • 3
    Agreed (from an Australian). Also Dialog refers to a pop up screen but dialogue refers to a two way communication. Catalogue is a list of items whereas catalog is a computerised list.
    – dave
    Commented Jan 3, 2011 at 20:01
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    The Guardian newspaper's style guide agrees with this answer's British English usage: "program (computer); otherwise programme". guardian.co.uk/styleguide/p
    – Hugo
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 13:18
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    In American English, the spelling is always analog, catalog, dialog, program. The dichotomy in Australia and Britain comes from using the American spelling for the meanings related to computers. Commented May 26, 2011 at 16:14
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    I'm another Australian who agrees. In the early days of computers people did write "computer programme" but by the time this sense settled into the national vocabulary the "program" spelling definitely emerged as the standard one. Commented May 26, 2011 at 16:26
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    I think the propensity of the use of program for computer program is an adoption of the US spelling because that is where the vast majority of early computing literature came from. I believe that both options are acceptable in all cases, but that 'computer programme' would be considered a bit quaint.
    – Richard A
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 4:32

In British (real) English programme is used in general, except in terms of computer programming, and related activities where the American form program is used.

A: Can you program the video recorder for me?

B: Sure, what programme do you wish to record?

  • 3
    +1 for defining British as "Real" English. Kind of hard to dispute ;-)
    – LRE
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 4:38

I've mostly been exposed to American English myself; however, that said, when I've read articles in British magazines they seem to use "program" when referring to computer programs. Likewise, here's a blog entry that seems to back me up: Program vs. Programme.


There's no good reason to draw a distinction between a computer programme and any other programme. For that reason, I always write "programme". I seem to be in the minority, though.

  • 2
    You're right. It is not really necessary to have such a distinction. It seems to me that people who do so are probably ignorant of differences in American English or, are just copying American English, because of personal preference or just because other people are.
    – Tristan
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 10:34
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    It's a long time since programme was a reasonable analogy for what computer programs do.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:30
  • @JonHanna Hot take: you're wrong.
    – Marcin
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 18:07

As a computer programmer, writing a computer programme is wrong. It might be acceptable linguistically, but in terms of communications, it is always program. And it does come from the American version, but is part of British English now.

"Quaint" is the polite version of what impression programme gives.

  • 1
    Seeing þᵉ olde computator programme certainly does leave one with a … ‘quaint’ impression.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 14:28
  • There is simply no distinction between the referents of "programme" and "program". They are the very same thing.
    – Marcin
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:47

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