Dialog or Dialogue?

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

Recently, when I was writing about dialogue tags, I had to look up whether the correct spelling is dialogue or simply dialog. I know I’ve seen both, and I found an interesting answer. 

Dialog and Dialogue in British English

dialog dialogue British spelling

Dialog and Dialogue in American English

The shorter spelling started spiking in the early 1980s, especially in American English, and in many cases it’s used in a computing context—for example, when people are writing about a dialog box where you input text.

It seems that the computing use (dialog), again especially in American English, has started drifting over into the older “two people are talking” meaning. 

Nevertheless, the AP Stylebook recommends the longer dialogue spelling. The Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t specifically recommend one spelling over the other, but it uses the longer spelling throughout its own book. My recommendation is to use the longer spelling when you are writing about conversations in a novel or play. 

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.