Translate WordPress into British English

Although those familiar with British English would be able to understand American English, it’s still technically a different locale. As such, it’s up for translation, and this is where you can contribute!

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All you need is your account to log in at the British English locale page on Translate WordPress and find a project you want to translate. This could be your own theme or plugin, or one you use but would really like to see translated anyway.

Each string you submit will be validated (usually within a few days), and then you’ll appear as a Translation Contributor on the en_GB Team page.

WordPress Core, plugins, themes, mobile apps, and other strings can be translated from American English (en_US) to British English (en_GB) using a system called GlotPress.

Style Guide

Beyond the usual converting s’s into c’s (eg the noun ‘license’ becomes ‘licence’), z’s into s’s (eg ‘customize’ becomes ‘customise’), and adding u’s (eg ‘color’ becomes ‘colour’), here is a list of other things we take into consideration when translating into en_GB:

  • Do not use ampersands (&), unless they are part of official titles or names. Otherwise, use ‘and’.
  • Do not put full stops between or after Latin abbreviations (etc, eg, ie), and do not italicise them.
  • Do not capitalise the first word after a colon (:), unless it is a proper noun.
  • Capitalise the first word of titles, and all words within the title, except articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but), and prepositions (to, on, for, etc).
  • Fix random capitalisation – quite often you’ll see random adjectives and nouns capitalised (typically for emphasis), however, this is unnecessary, and we change it back. An example: a lot of people capitalise ‘Responsive’, however, it should just be ‘responsive’.
  • Ensure correct capitalisation – some words require specific capitalisation. Some examples: ‘Url’ should be ‘URL’; ‘AJAX’ should be ‘Ajax’, and so on. This also applies to proper nouns and company names (eg ‘WordPress’, not ‘Wordpress’).
  • Write numbers from one to ten in words; use figures for numbers above ten. However, if there are a lot of numbers in a text, some above ten and some below, use figures throughout to allow easy comparison by readers.
  • Use words for ‘first’, ‘second’, and so on, up to and including ‘tenth’; use numbers and ‘st’, ‘nd’, ‘th’ for larger numbers. Don’t use superscript (to prevent problems with line spacing).
  • Always use figures and symbols for percentages, measurements and currency. Use commas to punctuate large numbers.
  • Do not use an m-dash (—); use an n-dash (–). Use an n-dash in a pair in place of round brackets or commas, surrounded by spaces. Use singly and surrounded by spaces to link two parts of a sentence, in place of a colon (:). Use to link concepts or ranges of numbers, with no spaces either side. Use between names of joint authors/creators/performers, etc, to distinguish from hyphenated names of a single person.
  • Use Oxford commas – this makes lists easier to read, and makes the meaning clearer.
  • Change theme and plugin URLs to direct to their en_GB version – this means when dealing with a WordPress link, inserting ‘en-gb’ at the beginning of the URL, so it takes you to the British English version of that page. However, this does not apply to ‘Support’ pages.
  • Remove title attributes from links – originally thought to be helpful for accessibility, title attributes actually do not help at all when it comes to links, as they are not read out by screen readers by default, so we remove them. Do not worry if you see a warning telling you that the attribute is missing! As long as you have removed the title, and only the title, it’s all OK.
  • Change ‘http’ to ‘https’ – this is a case-by-case thing, as not all links have an ‘https’ version, and again, a warning will come up, telling you there’s an ‘http’ link missing. Once again, as long as you have only changed what is needed, there is no need to worry.
  • Use the 24 hour time format with leading zeros.


Our glossary covers a fair number of the changes British English makes to American English.

A lot of the strings will be exactly the same. Others will only change on spelling or the occasional different word. Capitalisation and word form (ie ending in –ed or –s) should be maintained or adapted as necessary.

You can find a detailed list of agreed changes for all English variations on this spreadsheet: Shared English Variants Translation Glossary.

Note that some strings have been validated before these variations were decided, so if you see a different version, please reject it and submit a new string. If we ever get global searching across all projects, we’ll handle it then.

Other changes would be where demo content uses dollars and an American city that could be changed to pounds and London respectively.

Order of Translations

At the moment, other than what might appear each day, there are no fuzzy strings or strings that are waiting – we keep on top of those a few times a week. Otherwise, we submit and validate strings on popular projects (to bring the benefit to a wider range of people) and projects that maybe nobody but the author has used (to clear off the hundreds of those tiny plugins).

Our challenge is to get the most popular themes and plugins translated. The data from these pages is updated in real time.

When submitting strings, start on the Development/Stable (code) strings first, and leave the Readme projects until afterwards. When a string set reaches 90%, it has the possibility of being delivered to end-users via language packs, unless there is an existing language pack, in which case there is no threshold. Having the code found in everyone’s WordPress installs showing up as the right language is more beneficial than having the plugin screen contents being translated.

For the Readme, there’s no limit – once a string is translated, it is used (after a few minutes), even if all the other strings remain untranslated. The benefit of getting Readme strings to 100%, means that it’s easier to see when any new strings are added to a project, as the overall translation percentage will drop from 100%.

If you’re interested in contributing, just follow the steps above and start contributing today!

Also, if you want to discuss anything regarding translating into British English, please join our UK Slack, and the “#en-gb” channel.

Using GlotPress

Screenshot of a string in GlotPress being translated.
The “Copy from original” functionality is invaluable for en_* translations

A walkthrough tutorial for translation in the en_GB locale

Keyboard Shortcuts

GlotPress offers a number of keyboard shortcuts to accelerate the process and reduce the number of required clicks, which is of significant help when translating between English variants. Currently operational:

  • CTRL + Enter = Copy the string into the translation box
  • Shift + Enter = Save the string

(* A copy and save command is in the pipeline. Check the GlotPress wiki here.)

Process to Become a PTE/GTE

This applies to all contributors – even plugin and theme authors who want to translate their own project.

The typical process is for you to submit many (hundreds) strings for en_GB. This doesn’t require any change in default permissions and can be done immediately. If you do a great job, and we’re confident in your abilities and intentions, you can then be upgraded to a Project Translation Editor (PTE) for a range of themes and plugins (yours, or your favourites/the ones you use, etc.). If that goes well over a sustained period of time, you may then apply to be a General Translation Editor for en_GB.

Why Do We Require This?

While plugin authors want control over their individual plugin, we would like to have consistency for all en_GB users for all plugins and themes. Many of those who request to be a PTE don’t understand the subtle differences between American English and British English, and may not be aware of the information contained in the Glossary. By letting us check over submitted strings, we ensure the quality stays high and consistent.

Even having someone do the submissions across projects, and just letting the existing validators do bulk validating of your submitted strings, makes things considerably quicker for the translation team. Strings are checked and approved at least a couple of times a week, so theme and plugin authors don’t have long to wait.

How to Become a PTE

If you wish to become a PTE for your own themes/plugins and we’re happy with the quality of your translations, please feel free to make an editor request here on the Polyglots blog, following the format as shown in the Polyglots Handbook. If we’ve seen you recently submitting high-quality strings (ideally, 100% of your plugin), we’ll approve the request as soon as possible. If not, we may ask you to contribute more translations before approving you.

Similarly, if you’re a developer and you wish to nominate someone as a PTE for your themes/plugins, please have them submit strings and make a request, nominating them as the PTE for your themes/plugins by following the steps above. More information on this can be found in the Polyglots Handbook.