Spelling forms, as used in South African English, are listed at the top of the entry.
In the case of distinctive patterns, variant spellings may also be grouped to show the development of each form. Each group is identified using a Greek character (α, β, etc.), and substantiated by a unique set of quotations for each group. Variant spellings in each group are given in alphabetical order, and groups are given in chronological order according to earliest recorded use. Not every variant spelling is reflected in the quotations section of the entry.
Current variant spellings may be given before those no longer in use. Variant forms which are now obsolete are introduced by the words 'formerly also'.
Only significant variations are included in the list of variant forms, such as a change in a letter, accented forms, forms with an apostrophe etc. Marked differences in initial and medial capitalization are noted, but hyphenation is generally unremarked. Clearly aberrant spellings are excluded from the list.
Abbreviations, shortenings, elliptical forms etc. are not treated as variant spelling forms of a headword. These are generally appended to the definition.
If a headword has many plural as well as many singular forms, and some of these are used interchangeably in South African English, a division into groups marked singular, singular and plural, and plural replaces a list of variant forms (although the most common plural form may still be given first).
Distinctive diminutive, feminine, comparative or superlative forms may be given in bold roman immediately after the definition or as a note.