Have you ever noticed that some publications write “advisor” while others write “adviser”?

If so, you’ve noticed that it happens a lot — so much that you’ve probably figured out that neither spelling is a mistake. No way would half the professional publishing world spell a word wrong every time they use it. Indeed, it’s no mistake.

“‘Adviser’ and ‘advisor’ are both correct,” advises Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. “Some people feel that ‘advisor’ is more formal, and it tends to be found more often when applied to official positions, such as an advisor to a president. When referring to someone who is serving in a military role, especially when using the term as a euphemism (as when claiming that troops are actually military advisers), then ‘adviser’ is somewhat more common.”

People guess that the biggest thorn in an editor’s side is bad grammar. It’s not. Grammar errors are easy to spot and fix. Alternative correct spellings, on the other hand, are a never-ending pain in the neck. We have to pick not just a correct spelling but the one that’s been preselected by whatever style we’re following. Here's my recent column on some of the alternative correct spellings that cause the most trouble.

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