Posted by: Jack Henry | June 14, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Fliers vs. Flyers

The other day, I was sending an email to some writers I call “frequent fliers” because they often use our editing services (and we love our frequent fliers). Of course, when I went to type fliers, I got a little confused and sidetracked, which leads me to today’s topic: fliers vs. flyers.

I wanted to make sure I wasn’t referring to people as those annoying paper handouts you find under your windshield wipers, but I wasn’t sure which flier was which. Here’s what I found.

Some sources say that in America, both people and things who fly are called fliers; they also claim that Americans refer to handbills as fliers. Okay, easy enough: always spell it with an “i”. In Britain, a flier is the person or thing who flies; the paper handbill is a flyer.

But then I read that both Americans and Brits use both spellings. Grammar Girl said that it just depends which resource you are looking at. Our preferred dictionary is Merriam-Webster, and it provides this definition:


1: one that flies with wings (as a bird or insect) or as if with wings: such as a: fugitive b: aerialist c: aircraft d: airman

7: usually flyer a: a handbill or circular for mass distribution (as one bearing a political advertisement or the announcement of a coming sale) b: a supplementary catalog (as of a mail-order house)

Common sense says to pick which spelling you want for which, and then be consistent. Our Standards Committee says to go with Merriam-Webster. Therefore, let’s go with fliers for those of you who fly, and flyers for those paper handouts that we rarely look at as we carry them to the recycle bin.

Poster Contest
This sounds like a lovely symptom—I wonder if diabetes makes you enjoy show tunes? Thank you, Rhonda Harrison!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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