CS Sealey

New Zealand-based sub-editor, writer and author

The difference between layout and lay out

Quite often, two expressions which have the same letters in sequence get mixed up with each other, like layout and lay out. It is important to realise, though, that they mean two different things and are not interchangeable.

layout (noun)—the way in which parts of a whole are arranged

The layout of this website is clean and stylish, thanks to my husband.

‘I don’t understand the layout of this campus one bit!’ Sally complained.

lay (verb)—to place something down somewhere or to exhibit or display something

‘Would you be so kind as to lay out the tools for this afternoon’s surgery?’ the doctor asked.

Before the game, Renee had to lay out all the shirts for the team.

As you can see, the words mean two different things and adding or removing the space could cause a little confusion.

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