Program or programme?

Posted on 26 September 2014 by Lucy Gregory

If you’re writing in American English, it’s easy: always spell it program. But if you’re writing British English, the rules are slightly more complicated.

The common spelling

In British English, the word is usually spelled programme:

X Factor is my favourite TV programme.

Get with the programme, man.

I follow an intensive fitness programme.


The exception: when to use ‘program’

The exception to the rule above is if you’re talking about computing. In computer-related terminology, the word is spelled program:

Computer programs are written in source code.

I’m an advanced user of the following programs: Outlook, Excel and Word.

Unless you’re a computer programmer!


Nouns or verbs?

All the examples above refer to nouns. If you use the the word as a verb, follow the same principles. However, if the word ends in -ed or -ing, use a double m (even in computer contexts):

I programmed my computer yesterday.

I don’t understand these computer programming instructions.