Recently, someone questioned – with a hint of criticism, I might add – our spelling of the word “flier.” This launched us into a full-fledged spelling/meaning search extravaganza. (As ABC’s wordsmith, I was more than enthused to take on the investigation. After all, who better to head this project than someone who is passionate about words?)
To set the record straight for anyone curious, especially anyone in the advertising or print business who uses the word frequently, all our research points to the fact that in all their meanings, “flier” and “flyer” are exactly the same. However you choose to spell it may depend on which reference manual you use – The AP Stylebook prefers “flier,” while Merriam-Webster uses “flyer.” Another thought is that American English seems to prefer “flier,” while British English prefers “flyer.” You can rest assured that no matter how you spell it, in the context of advertising handouts or leaflets, the two are interchangeable.
Now, with that said, it is important in a written document to remain consistent and use only one variant of it, whether it’s “flier” or “flyer,” throughout the entire piece. Otherwise, you run the risk of causing mass confusion among your readership.