What's This Industry Called? Voice Over, Voice-Over or Voiceover? | Voices.com Blog - Where clients and voice actors can find valuable information on pre-production, technology, animation, video and audio production, home recording studios, business growth, voice acting and auditions, celebrity voice actors, voiceover industry news and more!

We’re trying to get a consensus on how our industry’s name is spelled.

That’s right, is it voice-over, voiceover or voice over?
Do you have a preference?
Find out what some of my fellow bloggers think as well as our take on the spelling here at Voices.com.

Is There A Definitive Spelling?

How do you spell out the acronym for VO?
Is it:
a) Voice Over
b) Voice-over
c) Voiceover
Bob Souer has chimed in with his thoughts.

Is There Really a Debate Here?

Perhaps what truly matters in this case is not what our community thinks and practices but what the people who search for it are thinking and which variation they adopt when conducting a search online.

One of the only reasons why you’d want to limit yourself to one way of spelling the term is to save yourself time and effort doing search engine optimization, however, it is wiser to optimize for any variation of the word if your purpose is to attract attention from the masses who clearly have their own perception of how the word, or like terms, are made manifest.

What Do You Think?

You may not have cared, wondered at all or even known about this quandary before today, but in the name of free speech, I’m going to ask you what you believe to be the proper way to spell the name of our industry. Usually I’m one for having consensus, but given that so many people search for different things, it would be extremely difficult to educate the world and enforce a uniform spelling.

That doesn’t mean that it can’t be tried, though!
Some people have variations for the acronym itself while others still are even calling it Voice Acting and any number of its variations, as Dan Nachtrab pointed out, in addition to voice over, voice-over or voiceover…
Leave a comment with how you spell voice over and let the games begin!
Best wishes,

Previous articleButt Out! Medical Reasons Why Voice Actors Should Not Smoke
Next articleHow To Become A Voice Actor Fresh Out of High School
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. This is why I thought it was so interesting. Voice over is the most searched but that may take into account searches for things like voice over IP. Voice-over is supposedly proper but is underused. Voiceover is currently in the lead in the polls but even typing it here ticks off my spell checker. Hmmmm…..

  2. I prefer, “voice over,” especially after hearing that the Oxford English Dictionary uses a hyphen. The Brits still call a voice over demo, “a reel,” and refuse to give up the term, “cinema.” The hyphen connects the two words, giving more emphasis on the “noun” aspect to the term, and I like the idea that what I do for a living has a preposition with an “implied” subject (voice over what?). What I’d really like to know what is the origin of the term? My best guess is that the term came from theatrically released newsreels, which required a voiced portion that was separate from the picture. Perhaps (1) because the sound seemingly emanated from over the screen, or (2) somehow in the technical process with optical prints, the celluloid sound print was literally placed over the celluloid print of the picture, or, (3) it was the luck of the draw with terms, “voice behind,” and “voice under” in the running. Love to know.

  3. Well I am a ‘Voice Over’ fan because it ties in more with what I call myself; a Voice Over Artist. However I did pay to have 2 logos made, one saying ‘Julie-Ann Dean Voice Over Artist’ and another saying ‘Julie-Ann Dean British Voice Talent’. Which begs the question – what is our job title? Thats a whole other debate!

  4. It would be a real help with search terms on the internet if everyone agreed to one way of spelling it. But we’re not going to, are we ? Voiceover ( voice-over, voice over) artists are such a quirky individualistic lot that we’re never going to agree to one term. I spell it different ways- it depends what day of the week it is.

  5. This is a very interesting question. The answer depends on your goals. Do you want to improve the hits on your sites when someone searches? Or do you want to use the language correctly (an intellectual exercise, I agree, but one which fascinates communications professionals)?
    If your goal is the first of these two possibilities, anything goes. Our potential clients aren’t always spelling bee winners. Think of the actor’s problem with the keyword “theater”. It can, and is, often spelled “theatre”. Yes, there is an international/regional/cultural factor at play in this case, too.
    That said, let me comment on the “proper English” question. First, I consider “voiceover” to be industry jargon and unquestionably correct within that context. Outside the industry, and IMHO from purely a linguistic perspective, I consider “voice-over” to be the correct form as an adjective and “voice over”, _with_ the quotation marks, to be the correct form of the noun for the field.
    Personally, I prefer voice acting in most cases. Go figure.
    Of course, VO works for everything! (… even if it’s probably jargon, too. 🙂 )

  6. Although Webster hyphenates the term, I’m inclined to use voiceover, spelled solid, whether used as a noun or an adjective. This is one of those rare instances where I believe the dictionary is wrong and needs to be updated. Initially, the term was used to categorize a new and unique niche of broadcasting, but the “niche” has grown exponentially into an industry of its own, and I believe that the term needs to be updated to reflect that.
    I haven’t had a chance to check what Dave Courvoisier or Bob Souer have to say about it, though… the links are blocked from my current location.
    Randy Bloyd

  7. Well, being one that likes diversity ….
    I’ve used all three at one time or another and will continue to do so. But like several have already commented, VO covers it all.
    Blessings to all

  8. It should be “voice-over” because you add hyphen when you need to join two (or more) words together to form a compound or single expression. Also, you use a hyphen to join words in a compound expression that is put before a noun. ie: Voice-Over Artist, Voice-Over Actor. But I admit, I write “voice over” all the time.

  9. I agree with Dave Courvoisier and Bob Souer. It really doesn’t make a lot of difference what we call ourselvers — in this business where the client is king. Just like preparing our product by imaging and talking to the audience they want us to, we need to be ready to respond to the labels they apply to us. Limiting ourselves to one specific label is exactly that — limiting ourselves.

  10. Aloha,
    I have always thought (and this is what shows my age) that voice-over was short for voice-over-film originally and then shortened for just voice work. So technically I prefer voice-over. But since we often do dry voice what is the voice over?
    So I vote…
    1. voice-over
    2. voiceover (indicating a completely new and separate job description)

  11. Personally, I say we are in the voiceover industry. I think most of us actually say it that way. Think about it…we say it as one continuous flowing word with the emphasis on voice – VOICEover; not as two separate words – VOICE OVER. Plus, while the dictionary hyphenates the word, I think they do that whenever a phrase or term has been coined, to fit the usage as understood by the general public. However, in the industry itself, it’s not just a coined phrase, it’s our jargon for what we do, and our spelling would be the official spelling. I guess the speech pathologist in me is speaking now.
    That’s my two cents and I’m sticking to it.
    Susan Wade

  12. I really like Pat Fraley’s take on the potential that lives in using “voice over” as a preposition. It does give the word a little more action! However, I have noticed that if I do a search within dictionary.com or wikipedia.org they do enjoy redirecting me to “voice-over.” Being one of those people who prefer “theatre” over “theater” I have to think that it really comes down to personal preference.
    All the best,
    Ashley Huyge

  13. Not many people now remember that “Voice Over” is short for “Voice Over Film”. The course of most terms in English is to go from separate words (“Base Ball”) to hyphenated words (“base-ball”) to a single word (“baseball”). With all due respect to the dictionary folks, they can only reflect the usage of the public, and must always lag behind the curve.
    So the historically accurate can use “Voice Over,” those on the cutting edge can use “voiceover”, but the one destined to be dropped as a transitional placeholder is “voice-over”.

  14. Ignoring my email address for a moment, I prefer not to use any variation of “voiceover” on my website, at least. Too many search engine results for variations of the term lead to site about Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) and other telephony related stuff. So, my first choice is always “voice acting” or “voice actor.”
    I’m also not a fan of “artist” or “announcer.” “Actor” tells it like it is.

  15. “Erik Sheppard has asked a number of us to pose a question to our audiences, which is, how do you spell out the acronym for VO?”
    For openers,I may be incorrect here but VO IS the acronym for voiceovers,voice over,voice-over and not the other way around.
    My choices are voiceover,voice over and voice-over.

  16. Excellent feedback and ideas here. I don’t believe there will be consensus and everyone, including those who hire us, agreeing on the perfect term for this profession. From the SEO perspective, I think the use of the term least likely used allows for less competition among websites already featuring the same descriptions and tag words, and allows for higher search rankings. Of course algorithms can change, almost daily, so that concept can too.
    All The Best,
    Bobbin Beam- Voice Actress

  17. Hi Ed,
    Thanks for your comment. We are indeed spelling out the acronym VO. The challenge I had in that opening sentence was not to use the actual word so I had to improvise a bit and not show any preferential treatment to a particular way of spelling our industry’s name.
    VO is the acronym, people also call it V-O and V/O so I think we have more than just the voice-over, voice over, and voiceover debate on our hands let alone the entire notion of voice over artist, voice-over actor, voice talent, voice actor, voice over talent, etc.
    Erik, you’ve opened a real can of worms, here!

  18. I use all 3 in no particular order. It depends how I’m feeling on the day. I also interchange “voice over (or is that voice-over/voiceover?) talent, actor, artist”. I love the variety. Or am I just indecisive?

  19. One word describing what we do works for everything; its like ‘attorney’, ‘doctor’ etc. If we stick to a two-worded description of ourselves we risk losing our internet identity as single words work better for SEO. New words are created each year as a language evolves. The word ‘voiceover’ is great, I personally describe myself as a ‘voiceover’ artist. A standardization of what we call our industry will go a long way in defining our profession and that can only be for the better.

  20. If it matters, spell-checkers in word processors will consider either “voice over” or “voice-over” as correct forms, but prompt you to correct “voiceover.”
    Of course, this debate has probably already played out within the spell-checker/spellchecker/spell checker industry. But I digress.
    As for search engines, Googling any of the three brings you to our industry successfully, both paid and ranked listings, with not a single VOIP reference on the first page. We’re doing something right!
    I vote, “voice-over.”

  21. Wow, Stephanie, this may be one of your most popular blogs yet! Who knew people were so particular? I have used “voiceover” for 30 years and no one has ever questioned me (even if it isn’t in the Oxford Dictionary–yet).

  22. I use voiceover and VO regularly now, but at the beginning of my career, (about 8 years ago) I think it was the thing to say voice-over.
    But interesting Steph, this has brought a whole lot of views out!

  23. Dear All, it’s not funny for me. Two of my major sources of income both give me grief on this front. I am also a copy-editor and feel sort of sad that in a profession based on dotting all “i”s, etc., I don’t even know for sure whether there is a right way to spell my profession! In the end I have decided to go with copy-edit and voice-over, though maybe we should be looking for a totally new word since it’s more complicated and diverse a profession than it was in the day.

  24. Hi 🙂
    Well if you’re speaking about online (online, on-line or on line???:)
    searches… for ease I prefer, voiceover…. for everything else, I
    use VoiceOver…
    Just my thoughts,

  25. I tend to default to voice over and VO, but am open to the other variations. When trying to describe what it is that we do to non-industry folks or when applying a title, I often use “voice acting” or “voice artist.”

  26. I have always preferred voiceover and this dilemma has always driven me a bit batty. It’s a short drive too 🙂 ….But I recognized a long time ago that other folks spell it a myriad of ways and acquiese to all of them. I like using it as one word because as words become part of the American lexicon (I’m stealing the baseball reference from Dan a bit here) the hyphen tends to fall away…online, website, (does anyone even remember when you used e-mail?), creating a new word to reflect a new idea, or in this case, industry and art.

  27. Wish there was an official decision somewhere as this question has plagued me in writing for years. Use the proper, most common, or easiest to type? Hmmm.
    Have to say I prefer voice-over. But I write it all three ways.
    -Shelley Baldiga

  28. Personally I would Voice Acting, and end it there. Because too often when try doing a research on others in the business, and you mention Voice Over. You wind up receiving information on VO I.P. And here is something else to think about, we are all actors to begin with.

  29. I have never thought about this, but i think it varies from region to region or country to country.
    I am from New Delhi, India and here the common term we use is Voice Over or Voice Over Artist but lately people have also started using Voice Over Talent/Voice Talent as a term for the same.
    I think it depends from person to person also, I might love to call my self a Voice Over Artist while you might be in favor of using the term Voice Actor or Voice Artist.
    Anyway, good discussion!
    Waiting for another one.
    Avdhessh Arya
    New Delhi, India

  30. Oh, please, let it be “voiceover”, lest I have to rewrite all my marketing materials and branding!
    Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever spelled it any other way (…except when I’m visiting the all-hailed Julie Williams’ website)!

  31. Pat Fraley is right – as always. I think it might be time to move past voice-over and move to voice actor – voice talent – voice artist. Anything but – I do voiceovers. It’s soooooo old hat.

  32. [waving vigorously] Ooo, ooo, teacher! I have the right answer! This is the “voice-over” industry! 🙂
    Why you ask? Well, as a nation that pays deference to authority, and Webster–being the authority in the U.S. on the English language–spells it voice-over. [and I personally have NEVER spelled it that way! I mean seriously, who pauses while typing to look down and put in a hyphen?? Are you kidding me?! lol] Of the 8 books I have on the industry, they all spell it voice-over…but probably because an astute copy editor looked it up. I’m sure the authors had 8 variations of the spelling! 🙂
    I think the real question here is what SHOULD we call ourselves. The best arguments I’ve read above, and that’s IF we’re going to stick with the term, are that words typically progress from two, to hyphenated, to one and; that one word best indicates a profession such as doctor or lawyer. I’d like us to be thought of as a profession worthy of its own word, a single, new word to identify a well-defined field of professionals: the voiceover industry. Two separate words, whether hyphenated or not, indicate something hodgepodge and easily confused.
    Truth be told, I don’t like any of the spellings. When I hear voice-over, I conjure up visions of Gary Owens in 1960 with black rimmed glasses standing in front of a floor mic with one hand over his ear (see the cover of his book: How to make a million dollars with your voice). YUK! lol
    When people ask me what I do, I respond with a big ol’ smile, “I’m a voice actor!” It may not be a standardized or accepted term, yet, but it accurately describes what it is we do in the industry TODAY.

  33. I’m finding this very productive. A couple of thoughts:
    Dictionaries and spellcheckers reflect, and are not meant to lead the lexicon of any given occupation or endeavor. We are only in the third generation of whatever this thing is. We’re making this up as we go along. When I started teaching voice over in ’74, I remember making up terms for what we do. There were very few terms for what we do. I made lists, borrowing from acting, speech, and music terms, and struggled to come up with terms, attempting to avoid confusion.
    There are two different areas of nomenclature, which are of interest:
    What is the category or genre called?
    What are those who perform the jobs referred to as?
    Personally, for the genre, in 2009, I weight in with, “voice over JOBS.” JOBS, is less self-aggrandizing than any of the alternatives I can think of. I like “Voice Over PERFORMER” for what I do. Voice Over “ACTOR,” may very well describe what I personally do, and the skills I employ for the lion’s share of voice over jobs I get, but those who narrate, or do promo work, for examples, do more “presenting” than acting. And I do not cite “presenting” as a pejorative. I so wish I had more skills at presenting. Lot of money in promo work, and I stink at it. “Voice Over TALENT” possesses the connotative meaning of possessing formidable skills, and I don’t like conveying that meaning. I find the same problem with using, “Voice Over ARTIST.”
    Finally, I agree with those (Vanessa Hart for one), who believe voice over, and voice-over, will become, voiceover. But don’t look into my crystal ball. I’m the guy who bought Beta, Laser Discs, and an HD DVD Player. For now, this year, I’m hoping all of you Voice Over Performers get plenty of Voice Over Jobs.

  34. The term voice-over started out with the hyphen because it was a compound adjective which modified another word such as voice-over performance or voice-over recording. At some point it became a noun unto itself, and as such, was used as two separate words. In English when a two word (or is it two-word?) noun sits around long enough we combine them into one word such as “wallpaper”. So the evolution of the word was voice-over first, then voice over and most recently voiceover. Until very recently, if you typed “voiceover” into Google, it would ask you “did you mean voice over?” so Google was weighing in on the split version.
    And just to confuse things, along comes this technology called “voice over internet protocol (VOIP)” which uses the word in a completely different context. Notice also that with VOIP the voice is actually “over” something (the data) but with voice overs the voice often is not over anything–we consider radio commercials to be “voice over” when they are actually stand alone (stand-alone?) audio. The over-ness in voice over has often disappeared.
    I don’t think “voice acting” substitutes for voice over because many voice performances are not acting per se, news broadcasts for example. Just my thought.
    My personal preference? I gotta say I’m old school: voice-over.

  35. It’s odd that this is coming up right now because my film makers group just had a big discussion on it when one of our reporters was trying to figure out the same thing. Personally – I always use VO artist or Voice Over artist and everyone knows what I mean. But what’s correct? Like one of the member said – it depends on if you’re looking for website hits or it’s going on your business card I guess.
    I would love to know the answer though if anyone comes up with it.

  36. Since this debate is mainly to do with multiple choice, I’ll let this anon. comment through. If you’re reading this, be sure to take your time filling out the comment box.
    Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Anonymous missed out on the following because they didn’t complete the box:
    1. Did not identify themselves
    2. Did not link to their website for some link love
    3. Will not get recognition for their thoughts
    I don’t want that to happen to you!
    Please complete the form when you comment as it is good to know who we’re all conversing with and is also an easy opportunity for you as a commenter to link properly to your website and increase your search engine rankings.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli

  37. I chose Daniels Voice Over, not Voice-over or Voiceover, as a business name because I think it will pop up on more web searches..as soon as I finish my web site!

  38. I’ve read many insightful opinions, facts, and decisions about how to use the words Voice Over. Grammatically, however, voice-over, if used as an adjective, should proceed a noun as in voice-over narration or voice-over work or Voice-Over industry. However, like many hyphenated terms that have entered the English language, over time, we drop the hyphen and go with a single word spelling, like email, eLearning, and voiceover. In the latter case, voiceover can be used as both a noun and an adjective: i.e. Do you do voiceovers? Are you in the voiceover industry, or are you a voiceover artist. As for increasing SEO, like stated in earlier comments, most people can’t spell, don’t know the correct term to use, and don’t like to type long words. So, they, like I do, prefer to use “voiceover” as the lookup term vs. having to figure out what is the correct usage. This usage also should reduce the hit rate confusion with voice over IP look ups because a technical person wouldn’t tyupically search for “voiceover IP”. So, like the Oxford dictionary, I use Voice-Over Narration when using the terms as an adjective before a noun, “voiceover” if I need to use it as a noun and if I need to search for Voice Over industry terms. But I see the term used differently all over the place.

  39. If voice talent universally agreed to use “voiceover” as a single word, it would help specify searches, by filtering out results for hits on “voice” or “over”.
    “Voice-over” would yield results somewhere in the middle.
    Just a thought.

  40. I am, and always will be, a ‘Voiceover’ artist.
    The power of the single word makes it feel like a good solid noun, however I might record a voice-over script, voiceover script or voice over script. In my mind the separate ‘Voice Over’ suggests there’s a word missing …I am a voice ….overcoat, ….over the hill or …over the top maybe. 🙂
    In truth, my preference is purely that – my preference. The client can pretty much refer to me as any of the above for all I care as long as they are kind, honest and pay on time.

  41. It’s voiceover. It’s a singular thing, a noun, like a “script”, so should have its own, singular, word. “Voice over” leaves me wondering “voice over what?” Further, if the word is split over two lines (“voice” on one line and “over” on the next) it reads even weirder. It should be written as it’s said, i.e. voiceover. You are a voiceover artist. You’ve spent the afternoon doing voiceovers.

  42. I vote “Voiceover”, sometimes “voice-over”. The one I really hate is “voice over”, for two reasons: firstly because search engines are confused by it, and secondly because it just… doesn’t feel correct somehow.
    I actually use “voice-over” fairly often, but I agree, we need consensus on this. I think when every V/O artist writes it differently, it makes us look like we don’t really know. This is probably because we… don’t… really… know… but still, let’s sort this.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here