Proper Names

Q. My job entails editing and Americanizing books from the UK. We normally change British spellings to American for our audience, like defence to defense or centre to center. But what do I do in cases where one of these words is part of an official name, as in Ministry of Defence? or such-and-such Centre? If I leave the British spelling, it looks wrong compared to the text, but if I change it to the American spelling, it is wrong according to the organization.

A. Don’t worry—neither will look wrong. The text will look American and the name will look British. You can’t change the names of organizations, and most readers will know that.