Cancelation vs. Cancellation
  • 3-minute read
  • 16th August 2023

Cancelation vs. Cancellation

Cancelation or cancellation depends on which dialect of English you’re using. If you’re writing in American English, use one “l” so the spelling is cancelation. If you’re writing for a United Kingdom or Australian audience, double the “l” so the spelling is cancellation.

English spellings can seem confusing. They can differ between countries where English is the main language. You’ll find differences in spelling between the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, among others.

Now you know when to use cancelation and when to use cancellation, read on for more information about words derived from cancel.

What About Other Words That Come From Cancel?

The same rule applies to canceling and cancelling. The single “l” is used in American

English; it’s doubled for British and Australian English.

Is There a General Rule I Can Follow?

Yes, there’s a general rule that you can follow (not just with cancelation vs cancellation) that works for other similar words where you want to add a suffix.

When a word ends with “l” preceded by a vowel, such as in cancel, if you want to add a suffix that starts with a vowel, keep the “l” as a single letter for American English.

cancel becomes cancelation

But in standard British English, you need to double the “l”.

cancel becomes cancellation

Australian English follows the British rule.

As always, though, be careful using general rules. This one has exceptions, just like most general rules. If you’re unsure about the exceptions to this rule, you can read our blog on the doubling-up rule.

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Does the Rule Apply to ing Endings Too?

Yes, it does, as we’ve seen with canceling and cancelling.

We also have a blog post, Cancelled vs. Canceled which tells you more about different endings.

And Do Other Words Behave This Way?

Yes, some do. Another example is travel. The general doubling-up rule and its exceptions can seem quite complicated, but our blog about it makes it easier to understand.


If you can’t decide whether to use cancelation or cancellation, work through this quick question-and-answer session:

Q. Am I writing for an American audience?

A. Yes, use a single “l.”

Q. Am I writing for a UK or Australian audience?

A. Yes, use a double “l.”

The English language can seem complicated. If you’d like an expert to check your writing, Proofed can do just that, so follow the link.

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