I am constantly using a lot of references (from America) such as "Local Polynomial Modeling" (with one l). However, if I understand correctly, in the UK we use two l's in modelling.

I feel it is bad to be inconsistent with spelling this word. However, sometimes I end up with sentences such as "We apply local linear modelling as described in the book Local Polynomial Modeling".

How should this be dealt with?

4 Answers 4


It's a good question, though I'm not sure why this has ended up on ELL rather than ELU.

I think this is really a matter of stylistic choice. My inclination would be to adapt the style advice for Wikipedia content...

When archaic spelling is used in the title of a work, modernize the spelling in the text of the article but retain the original spelling in the references.

That's to say, when you cite actual original text (which to me includes book titles), retain the original spelling. In all other contexts, use the spelling appropriate to current (temporal or regional) standards.


This problem may be avoided by following the modern styles of in-line citation. Refer to the work with the offending spelling in its title as Author (2009). You need list the title itself only in your Works Cited, following your house rules for full citations, e.g.

Author, U. S. 2009. Local Polynomial Modeling. New York:Dutton.


There are two issues here: Should you use one or two l's? And, if your choice is different from that used in the title of a work that you are citing, what do you do?

The second question is easily answered. ALWAYS give a title in a citation as it was published. It is very common for Americans to cite British books or vice versa, or for modern writers to cite a book written hundreds of years ago when the language was slightly different. Don't "translate" a title to your dialect. This just makes it difficult for a reader to properly identify the work being cited. I suppose a minor spelling change wouldn't be likely to confuse, but you really don't want to cite Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" as "Domestic Violence Against a Woman for Violating the Social Norms of Her Day" to accommodate modern readers. I suppose if the book is old enough it might qualify as a foreign language and then you're moving into a different category.

As to one "l" versus two: I live in the U.S. When I was a kid in school, I was taught that if a word ends with a single consonant, that when you add -ed or -ing to that word, you double the consonant. So "model" should become "modelling". This makes good sense to be because it preserves the usual pronunciation rules: a vowel followed by a single consonant is long, but a vowel followed by two consonants is short. But apparently this is not the current convention. I generally go with what my spell-checker says, which seems a cop-out approach to language -- oh, do you always just do what you're told? -- but it's easier to be consistent that way.

  • I think this misses the mark. OP already knows about the US/UK spelling difference, so there's no point in discussing why AmE only uses two L's in such words. And in respect of the specific book title issue I think there's a huge difference between OP's example (just a matter of spelling) and your own illustrative example (wholesale rephrasing, which would obviously be ridiculous. Whilst I agree with the only relevant point being made here (Don't "translate" a title to your dialect), I don't think the rest of the text backs it up very convincingly. May 19, 2014 at 16:29
  • The rewritten title was intended to be hyperbole. Besides that, if you don't think I made my point clearly, well, okay.
    – Jay
    May 19, 2014 at 18:05

It does not matter which English you follow, you cannot change the title of any book.

In your case, 'Local Polynomial Modeling' is book's title and thus, you cannot change the spelling of 'modeling.'

There is no problem if you follow AmE that writes 'modeling,' but if you follow BrE, you write 'modelling' elsewhere in the sentence but certainly not when you mention the book's title.


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