Grammar Trap: Adviser vs. Advisor

Some time ago, this column tackled advice vs. advise, but it's also worth looking at adviser vs. advisor.

According to most sources, both spellings are acceptable, but my Webster's doesn't have a separate listing for "advisor" (with an "o"), it is merely an alternate spelling of the listed word, "adviser" (with an "e").

Some fusspots insist that "advisor" is always incorrect, that some nincompoop mistakenly derived the spelling from "advisory." This may be true, but ignores that many institutions of higher learning — including Purdue University — have adopted "advisor" as an official title.

As with all words that have alternate spellings, consistency is the key. You can't refer to an "adviser" in one part of a document and an "advisor" in another. That's why, for example, the Associated Press prohibits "advisor."

But we are a Purdue institution and the Purdue Marketing Communications Editorial Style Guide says we should use "advisor."

So the simple answer: if you're writing for Purdue Extension, use "advisor," not "adviser."

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