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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Is the spelling help desk or helpdesk?

A very common situation is whether or not two words should be separated by a space, or joined together as a compound word. The term help desk/helpdesk is one such situation.

A check on the internet of Australian sites (limiting sites to end in .au using Google) returns 12.6 million results for help desk and 379,000 for helpdesk. However, most people aren’t aware of how to limit results to just include sites ending in .au, so if they did the same test without restricting the results, they would get 66.8 million and 73 million respectively. The reverse of the usage in Australia. This is a perfect example of why it isn’t wise to just accept the information you receive from Google, without understanding more about the results you’re seeing.

Microsoft Word accepts both helpdesk and help desk equally, meaning writers using Microsoft Word are often unaware they’re using a secondary spelling variation.

If you check the Macquarie and the Australian Oxford dictionaries, both list help desk as the primary entry and helpdesk as an also entry.

The primary spelling in Australia is therefore help desk, with a space between the two words.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

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