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Alphabetise vs. Alphabetize — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 28, 2024
Alphabetise and Alphabetize refer to the same process of arranging items in alphabetical order; "alphabetise" is preferred in British English, while "alphabetize" is favored in American English.
Alphabetise vs. Alphabetize — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Alphabetise and Alphabetize


Key Differences

Alphabetise is the British English spelling for the act of arranging words or information in the order of the alphabet, reflecting the British preference for -ise endings. On the other hand, Alphabetize is the American English spelling that uses -ize, aligning with a broader American usage of -ize in words like realize and organize.
When using alphabetise in documentation or formal writing, British audiences are the primary target, as this spelling conforms to the norms seen in other British English terms. Whereas, alphabetize is typically used in the United States and often appears in American publications, which influences global English usage due to the widespread distribution of American media.
Educational systems in the UK teach students to spell according to British standards, hence "alphabetise" is taught in schools. Conversely, American educational systems enforce the -ize ending, teaching "alphabetize" as part of American English standards.
In digital word processing and spell-check software, the setting for language determines whether "alphabetise" or "alphabetize" is marked as a spelling error. While software set to British English will correct to "alphabetise," American English settings will suggest "alphabetize."
Writers who are unaware of the regional spelling differences might find themselves using these terms interchangeably. However, for academic and professional writing, it's crucial to maintain consistency with either British or American spelling conventions to ensure clarity and proper style adherence.

Comparison Chart

Preferred Spelling


Usage Region

United Kingdom, Commonwealth
United States

Language Settings in Software

Set for UK English
Set for US English

Common with Other Spellings

Organise, realise
Organize, realize

Educational Instruction

Taught in British schools
Taught in American schools

Compare with Definitions


To arrange or organize text or data in alphabetical order.
To find the name quickly, alphabetise the list of participants.


A method used in indexing and libraries to organize materials.
It's easier to find resources when you alphabetize the documents.


To sort terms according to the English alphabet.
The librarian helped the children alphabetise their project titles.


To arrange or organize text or data in alphabetical order.
The project manager decided to alphabetize the client contacts.


The process of ordering information from A to Z.
Alphabetise the files to streamline your workflow.


To sort terms according to the English alphabet.
Alphabetize the entries in the directory for better access.


A method used in indexing and libraries to organize materials.
Alphabetise the books to maintain the library's order.


To categorize content by the first letter of each item.
Alphabetize the ingredients list in your cookbook.


To categorize content by the first letter of each item.
Alphabetise the spices in your rack to easily locate them.


The process of ordering information from A to Z.
Alphabetize your apps to find them faster on your phone.


Standard spelling of alphabetize


To arrange in alphabetical order.


Arrange in alphabetical order;
Alphabetize the list


To supply with an alphabet.


To arrange words or items in order of the first (and then subsequent) letters as they occur in the alphabet.
It was almost impossible to locate specific books in the library until we had alphabetized them by the authors' surnames.


To arrange alphabetically; as, to alphabetize a list of words.


To furnish with an alphabet.


Arrange in alphabetical order;
Alphabetize the list


Provide with an alphabet;
Cyril and Method alphabetized the Slavic languages

Common Curiosities

Why is alphabetize more common in American English?

American English favors -ize endings, which align more closely with the original Greek roots.

Is there a difference in meaning between alphabetise and alphabetize?

No, both terms mean the same: to arrange in alphabetical order.

Can alphabetise and alphabetize be used interchangeably?

Yes, they can be used interchangeably but should align with the regional language preference of the audience.

Does the choice between alphabetise and alphabetize affect readability?

It does not affect readability but can influence the perceived correctness in different regions.

What is the main difference between alphabetise and alphabetize?

The main difference is regional spelling; "alphabetise" is British English and "alphabetize" is American English.

What should non-native English speakers know about these variations?

Non-native speakers should be aware of these differences, especially if they are writing for specific regional audiences.

Is there a preference for alphabetise or alphabetize in scientific writing?

The preference depends on the publication’s language standard; journals will specify their required form.

Are there any tools to help decide between alphabetise and alphabetize?

Yes, word processors have language settings that can suggest the appropriate form based on selected language preferences.

Why does British English use alphabetise?

British English often uses -ise endings based on its linguistic traditions and influences from French.

How do I know whether to use alphabetise or alphabetize in my writing?

Choose based on the predominant language variant of your audience—British or American English.

Can using the wrong form of alphabetise/alphabetize impact academic writing?

Yes, using the non-standard form for a specific region may be marked as an error in academic settings.

What are some other words affected by the -ise and -ize difference?

Examples include organise/organize and realise/realize.

How are children taught to use these words in the UK vs. the US?

In the UK, children are taught to use "alphabetise," while in the US, children learn "alphabetize."

Will the difference between alphabetise and alphabetize ever disappear?

It's unlikely in the near future, as both forms are deeply entrenched in their respective variants of English.

How has globalization affected the use of alphabetise and alphabetize?

American English has become more influential globally, often leading to an increase in the usage of "alphabetize."

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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