If I'm a Canadian who'll be presenting in an international conference, should I use my country's spelling, which is the Canadian/British spelling like "grey" or the more used American spelling like "gray?"

We also have our own unique spelling for some words, like "centre." I know Americans spell it "center" and I think the British spell it like the Americans.

Things to keep in mind:

  • I don't know the distribution of the audience.
  • The conference will be held in Germany, which isn't an English-speaking country itself.

Is there a protocol for these sort of situations?

P.S. This is a science conference, but I'm curious if a certain protocol exists.

  • 5
    The British spelling of centre is the same as yours. – John Bartholomew May 27 '11 at 17:59
  • 1
    Yeah, it's my understanding that Canadian English generally follows British spellings rather than American. – Karl May 27 '11 at 19:35
  • 2
    Concurring with the answers here, I'd observe that you can't please everyone, but you can always please yourself. – Brian Hooper May 27 '11 at 20:09
  • @karl, except where it doesn't - so we have "canadiantire centre" – mgb May 27 '11 at 21:04
  • @MartinBeckett - I had literally no idea what that meant. Took me a moment to realise there was a space between Canadian//Tire... That's interesting. You silly Canadians! – Karl May 28 '11 at 5:28

If you are Canadian, then people will expect you to present using Canadian spellings. Use the system you are comfortable with.

  • 2
    Yeah. The important thing really is consistency. I am British and I teach to second language speakers so I tend to teach based on British spellings. I never mark either as incorrect though, as long as the student uses all American or all British. – Karl May 27 '11 at 19:37

Of particular relevance is the fact that it is an international conference.

Your objective should be to reach out to as many of the delegates as possible with one version.

Your options in order preference would be:
1. If the conference organizers have a style guide of any sort, follow it by all means.
2. Else, ask if they would like to recommend/ suggest.
3. Failing which, follow the most widely respected and authentic neutral references. Avoid exclusive BrEng/ AmEng dictionaries.
4. Depending on your domain, there could be a geographic majority. If necessary, address it.
5. Check out all other constraints.
6. Finally, go for the version you are most comfortable and strongest in.


Use your normal spelling.

If your content is worth listening to then nobody will care how it's spelled.

BUT - there can be issues if you use words such as grey/gray in titles, they may not show up in searches. In this Google and citation score controlled world you have to think search engine optimisation !

  • Good point re Google – JAM Sep 8 '12 at 3:30

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