A flyer, a circular, a leaflet, a pamphlet, a handbill—so many words for one simple thing. A piece of paper with words and images printed on it that gets handed out on a street. Or, in modern times, even sent by email.

But while we’re sure we know what a flyer is, there is some confusion about how exactly to spell it. Is it “flyer,” or is it “flier?” Or is it that the different versions are used for different meanings? “Flyer” can also refer to a flying person or animal, for example.

The answer to all of these questions is yes. “Flier” is an acceptable way to spell the word, as is “flyer.” According to some sources, the spellings are different according to the meaning of the word.

Let’s find out if it is “flier” or “flyer”.

Meanings of the Word “Flyer”

We use the word “flyer” for three different things:

  • A piece of paper with images or text printed on it: Mia was handing out a flyer to promote her band’s first gig.
  • A person, an animal, or an object that flies: The bar-tailed godwit is an excellent flyer; it can fly the entire length of the Pacific ocean.
  • A device used for twisting yarn: Kevin needed to buy a new yarn flyer.

The Spelling Issue: Is It “flier” or “flyer”?

A lot of the confusion about the correct way to spell “flyer” comes not only from the fact that there is no standard way of doing it but also from the fact that different style manuals seem to prefer different spellings.

The Elements of Style and the Chicago Manual of Style do not address the issue.

Those in favor of “flier” include the Daily Telegraph, the Associated Press, and the American Heritage College Dictionary. Fans of “flyer” include the Guardian, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and the Oxford Dictionaries website. In theGregg Reference Manual, a flier is a pilot and a flyer is an advertising brochure.

Garner’s Modern English Usage identifies “flier” as standard in the United States and “flyer” as the British form.

Style manuals and dictionaries don’t necessarily have to concur on all issues. In this case, the disagreement means that you get to choose how you spell “flyer.”

Unless you’re obliged to follow a particular style manual, that is.

American vs. British Spelling

When it comes to the word for a pamphlet or circular, both sides of the pond have their preferred usage.

In the modern era, Americans largely advocate for flier in keeping with many major publications’ style guidelines. Autocorrect software configured for US English even dutifully marks flyer as an error.

Yet across the pond, British style manuals uphold flyer as the standard, just as American dictionaries and styles direct Americans. Even the venerable Oxford and Webster’s dictionaries acknowledge both as acceptable despite favoring their respective national spellings.

An analysis of published works shows flyer maintaining popularity in British writing, though flier has overtaken it in prevalence in America. So while subtle, the difference persists.

So who is correct? Both national styles have their rationales.

And perhaps it is best to adopt the local spelling when writing for a particular audience while accepting the dual spellings in informal writing.

Because in language, as in culture, appreciating differences often serves communication better than demanding conformity.

Flyers, and How to Create an Amazing One

So now that we know you can be a frequent flyer and a frequent flier (even though airlines seem to prefer the former spelling), let’s have a word or two about flyers—the paper ones.

Flyers are a perfectly convenient way to spread information.

In fact, up until the invention of email, they might have been the most convenient way to spread information. All you need to create a flyer is a very basic familiarity with design and a printing machine.

It could be a printing press like the one invented by Gutenberg, or it could be a laser printer. Flyers are easy to produce, cheap, and anonymous—and they can spread like wildfire.

Today, anyone can create a flyer right from their desktop.

There are thousands of templates available online to help those of us who don’t have a creative flair or the time to exercise it.

There are also online editors that allow you to upload the images you want to use on your flyer, choose the fonts you’d like for the copy, set a custom background, add your company’s branding, and save the final product as a high-res file.

From there, all you need to do is print the flyer or send it via email.