Ever wonder if the writing convention you use is correct? Well, it all depends what audience you’re writing for. For example, the structural differences between writing for a British audience and writing for an American one can be hard to keep straight. Even the way the two systems use basic punctuation can be slightly different. Here are some common ways that the two differ.
When writing a date, Americans put month, day and year in that order. So, December 25, 2015 would be 12/25/2015. The British (and most of the rest of the world’s) practice is to list the day, month, then year. So, the same date would be 25/12/2015.
To avoid confusion, writing out the month is probably your best tactic.
In American English, Mr., Ms., and Mrs. all have periods. In British, however, no periods are used.
When denoting time, the British system uses periods—noon would be 12.00—while the American system uses colons (12:00).
This is a fun one! British style uses single quotation marks for initial quotations, and then double quotes when there is a quotation inside the quotation. The British also put punctuation that is not part of the quotation outside the quotation marks. Americans do the opposite on both counts. For example:
British style: ‘I love lyrics that tell stories’, said the songwriter, ‘like in Marc Cohn’s song where he says that he “put on his blue suede shoes and boarded the plane.”’
American style: “I love lyrics that tell stories,” said the songwriter, “like in Marc Cohn’s song where he says that he ‘put on his blue suede shoes and boarded the plane.’”
Don’t worry, though: in most other matters of style, the Americans and British tend to agree. Luckily, the above style choices are exceptions rather than the rule.