Niner Diversity Style Guide

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion's Niner Diversity Style Guide does not establish requirements or expectations for students or employees, but is instead intended as a resource for anyone who is seeking to be intentional about word choice when speaking to or about diverse populations.  
The guide answers common questions related to creating or modifying content addressing or describing diverse populations, and provides a foundation for what will be a dynamic resource. As members of Niner Nation, we will rely on our community's input to help us improve this guide as new information is learned and language evolves. Therefore, if you have any questions or recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact us at  

What is in the Niner Diversity Style Guide

  • Tips on writing about various populations and groups. Click on the "Tips for..." boxes to gain access to this information.
  • Tips for inclusive marketing
  • General writing guidelines to support inclusive discourse
  • Terms to avoid
  • Additional guides and resources

Click the image below to download the guide.Niner Diversity Style Guide

Note: Because the Niner Diversity Style Guide, like the University's Editorial Style Guide, is based largely on the AP (Associated Press) Handbook, many entries reflect AP style, especially when no other guidance exists. Additional resources are noted and provided in several sections.


When writing about anyone with a disability—whether physical, intellectual, psychological or emotional—always strive to adopt "people first" language. This means using words that put the person at the center of a description rather than a label, their status, or focusing on what the individual cannot do.

For example, you would refer to a "faculty member who has dyslexia" but not a "graduate student who's dyslexic." As with any other area of sensitivity like this, please ask the individual how they prefer to be referred to and use this language as much as possible. Be sure if you are interviewing someone with a disability, whether visible or not, that they are aware of how much detail and information you will be sharing about their disability and/or ask them to review the content before it is published.

If the disability is not part of the story and there isn't a need to include it, don't.

Avoid sensationalizing a disability by using phrases like, but not limited to, "afflicted with," "suffers from," or "victim of." 

Use "accessible" when describing a space, location or event that is modified to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

To show inclusiveness and sensitivity to students, you may want to refer to them as "students who are receiving services," which may include physical or mental help, or "students with a verified disability." 

Terms to Avoid 

  • Able-bodied or normal when referring to a person who does not have a disability

  • Afflicted with

  • Confined to a wheelchair: Describes a person only in relationship to a piece of equipment designed to liberate rather than confine.

  • Crazy, insane, nuts, psycho

  • Deaf and dumb/deaf-mute

  • Defect, birth defect, defective

  • Demented, senile

  • Disabled (preferred: people with disabilities or disabled people)

  • Epileptic fit: The term seizure is preferred when referring to the brief manifestation of symptoms common among those with epilepsy.

  • Loony, loony bin, lunatic

  • Mentally retarded: Always try to specify the type of disability being referenced. Otherwise, the terms mental disability, intellectual disability and developmental disability are acceptable.

  • Midget: Some prefer the term "little person," while others would rather use the word "dwarf," but both are generally considered inoffensive.

  • Paraplegic: Avoid referring to an individual as a paraplegic. Instead, say the person has paraplegia.

  • Psychotic: Avoid using psychotic to describe a person; instead refer to a person as having a psychotic condition or psychosis.

  • Quadriplegic: Use people-first language, such as "a person with quadriplegia"

  • Schizophrenic: Use people-first language, stating that someone is "a person with schizophrenia" or "a person diagnosed with schizophrenia" rather than a schizophrenic or a schizophrenic person

  • Spastic, a spaz

  • Stricken with, suffers from, victim of

  • Vegetable

  • Wheelchair-bound (preferred: person who uses a wheelchair, wheelchair user)

Source: National Center on Disability and Journalism

Note on the Use of Queer

The word "queer" has historically been considered a slur, so you may want to avoid use of the word, limiting it to quotes, names of organizations, and instances when an individual indicates he/she/they would prefer it used in reference to themselves. That said, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQIA people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBTQIA community. Queer can also be used in academic circles related to domain (e.g., "queer studies") and or a range of post-structuralist theories that deal with the construction or reconstruction of sexuality and/or gender identity known as "queer theory." Other variants, such as "quare theory," consider the intersection of identities, such as race. In your writing, avoid comparisons that reflect a heteronormative bias—in other words, heterosexual/cisgender as "normal" or the norm.

Note: When interviewing someone or otherwise referring to a source or subject in your writing, ask the individual how they prefer to be referred to (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, intersex, etc.) related to their gender and/or sexual identity. This may include identifications that are not common or specific. Ask, too, if there are any terms they ask not be used in reference to them and in what cases.

Note on the Use of "Transsexual" and "Transgender"

The GLAAD Media Reference Guide notes that "transgender" is preferred to "transsexual" and the latter should not be used. Some folks who seek to alter their body in some way may use transsexual and NOT transgender precisely because of the politics that bar folks from altering their bodies on their terms. Transgender is the larger term while transsexual is the more local term for a smaller group of folks who fall under the larger transgender umbrella but who may not call themselves transgender." When in doubt, ask someone how the prefer to be referenced.

Reminders for reporting on and writing about LGBTQIA individuals, communities or individuals:

  • Don't conflate sex and gender; they aren't the same thing.

  • When discussing marriage, make sure you use the person's preferred term(s), whether partner, spouse, wife, husband or something else. Gay marriage and same-sex marriage are acceptable terms.

  • Pay close attention to how the person you're talking to narrates their own story and follow their lead and cues when you write. If the person uses terms you don't know, ask them to explain each so you can use it correctly. If there is particular sensitivity on the part of a source and/or topic, build in time for a source(s) to review their quotes for accuracy.

Reasons to Ask—and Reasons to Refrain from Asking
When is it appropriate to ask a subject to disclose his/her/their sexual orientation for a story? Is it ever?

Reasons to ask:

  • If it adds context to the story. Are you interviewing the person specifically because s/he/they is a member of the LGBTQ+ community? If so, ask to confirm and ask how said individual identifies.

  • If it is central to the story. Is it out of place if you didn't mention it? For example, if you're covering same-sex marriage, or anti-trans legislation is it's relevant to include that the person is or could be directly affected by the events?

  • If it isn't central to the story, what is your motivation for asking? Are you trying to add diversity to your story or highlight how different populations might be affected differently?

Reasons to avoid asking or telling:

  • If it would cause harm to the subject.

  • If it's merely for prurient reasons or to sensationalize the story.

  • Would you include the information if the subject were heterosexual? If yes, include it for an LGBTQ+ person. If not, consider why you want to include it; it must be relevant.

Pronoun Use for Transgender Sources recommends to avoid using the term "preferred pronoun" in describing others because it can signal that one's preferred pronoun is a negotiable referral to said person's identity.

If a source shares a transgender or gender-nonconforming identity, it is best practice to ask for preferred pronouns. Be cautious that a person's pronouns may not correspond with the gender that may be associated with one's name or appearance. Also, do not assume transgender status or include it if it is not germane to the story.

Note: Sex, gender and sexual orientation are not synonymous. 

Terms to Avoid 

  • Closeted (preferred: not out)

  • Gay community (preferred: LGBTQIA community)

  • Homosexual (preferred: gay or lesbian)

  • Openly gay (preferred: out)

  • Queer (see discussion above)

  • Lesbian women (this is redundant; say lesbian)

  • Lifestyle

  • MTF or FTM (use male to female/female to male transition unless an individual identifies themselves this way)

  • Sexual preference (preferred: sexual orientation)

  • Tranny

  • Trans (abbreviation for someone who is transgender; Transgender people identify as a gender that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender woman was assigned to be male at birth; a transgender man was assigned to be female at birth.)

  • Transvestite (preferred: cross-dresser; cross-dressing does not necessarily indicate someone is gay or transgender)

For more terms, go to the GLAAD Media Reference Guide

Gender is not synonymous with sex. According to the AP Stylebook, gender refers to a person's social identity while sex refers to biological characteristics.

Since not everyone falls in the category of "male/man" or "female/woman," in your writing, avoid references to both as inclusive of all people. Consider referring to a person or people or, if appropriate, including the term "non-binary" as a way to encompass all people.

Transgender is an adjective (so modifying man or woman—as in transgender man, transgender woman) that refers to someone whose biology at birth does not match their gender identity. AP allows the use of trans on the second reference and in headlines. Do not use transgender as a noun or use the term transgendered.

Exception: In federal reporting, such as terms used by the National Center for Education Statistics IPEDs, federal enrollment and graduation rates, sex and gender ARE used interchangeably and this data refers to "men" and "women" (not male and female). UNC Charlotte is beginning to collect data on gender identity through banner, students are able to choose other options when self-identifying on their application).

Note: When interviewing individuals or otherwise referring to people, ask them how they want to be referenced (e.g., male, female, man, woman, transgender, gender fluid, nonbinary, etc.). Further, when writing about said individual(s) ask how they would like to be referenced (e.g., he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs).

The AP Stylebook advises against "[presuming] maleness in constructing a sentence." If you can reword a sentence to avoid gender, that's ideal. If that's not possible, you may opt to use "they" or "their" to indicate that the gender of the individual referenced is either not known or the reference applies to any gender.

Consider using the suffix –person (e.g., chairperson instead of chairman; spokesperson instead of spokesman) in your writing to avoid presuming maleness. Ask the person whose title you're referencing what they prefer as well, if possible. Be aware, too, of words that use –ess and denote femaleness, such as stewardess or hostess. When possible, choose a gender-neutral alternate, such as flight attendant.

The singular "they": In March 2017, the Associated Press voted to accept the singular they (as well as them/their ) as a gender-neutral pronoun when he/she or her/him is not accurate or preferred.

If possible, try to reword a sentence to avoid using the singular they/their/them, since this usage is still unfamiliar to many, if not most, readers and can cause confusion. So rework the sentence if you can and use the person's name in place of a pronoun when you can.

Another exception to avoid using only men/women or male/female (a binary reference) would be in a reference where men/women or male/female are necessary for accuracy, as in the case of a study that included men and women.

Mx: Though the Oxford Dictionary accepts Mx as a gender-neutral alternative to Mr., Mrs. or Ms., the AP Stylebook doesn't use these courtesy titles so does not offer guidance on the use of Mx.

It is the work group's feeling that this is currently not commonly understood and its use would likely confuse readers. Recommendation: Avoid using Mrs., Mr., and/or Ms. altogether, and only use traditional titles when necessary.

Terms to Avoid 

  • Hermaphrodite (preferred term: intersex)

  • Normal/norm (to refer to people who are not transgender, gender-fluid, non-binary)

  • Sex change (preferred terms: sex reassignment, gender transition)

Click here for additional Guidelines for Non-Sexist Use of Language

Race and ethnicity are not the same. The U.S. Census Bureau defines race as a person's self-identification with one or more social groups, which can include White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and/or Other Pacific Islander.

Federal statistical standards used by the Census and the National Center for Education Statistics, conceptualize a person's ethnicity into one of two categories: Hispanic(or Latino/a/x) or Not Hispanic (Latino/a/x). If a person is Hispanic/Latino, they can self-report/identify as any race.

Federal regulations from 2007 about racial and ethnic data require institutions of higher education to collect and report a single, mutually exclusive major racial/ethnic group for students in federal collections (e.g., IPEDS). 

The fastest-growing demographics in the U.S. are "Two or More Races," the Asian population, and the Hispanic population. By 2044, there is expected to be no race or ethnic group in the U.S. that represents a 50 percent or greater share of the population. In this style guide, we attempt to provide basic guidance on style for:

African American, Black

African American / Black (the B in Black is capitalized; African American is not hyphenated)

African American and Black are not synonymous. If you are including someone's race in the content you're creating, be sure it is necessary to mention it and ask the person how they prefer to be identified. A person may identify as Afro-Latino or Afro-Caribbean, for instance, or Haitian American or Jamaican American.

The Associated Press made the decision to begin capitalizing the b in Black on June 19, 2020. 

African American is not hyphenated. Never use the word colored or Negroas a descriptor. Afro American is an archaic descriptor and should not be used.

In the body of a piece, it is preferred to use Black people and not Blacks to refer to a group.

Terms to Avoid

  • Colored
  • Negroes
  • The other "N" word 
  • Blacks or "The Blacks"

Hispanic, Latino/a, Latinx, Latine, Latin@, Chicano/a

Hispanic / Latino/a/e / Latinx and related terms

Federal policy defines Hispanic as an ethnicity, not a race. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

Latinx is increasingly used unless the individual or people discussed prefer another term.

While it is common to see Hispanic and Latinx/Latino/a/ used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Hispanic generally refers to people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries. Latinx/Latino/a/e generally refer to people with origins in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Most Hispanics also identify as Latinx/Latino/a/e and vice versa. Generally, people from Brazil or Haiti do not identify as Hispanic, but may identify as Latinx/Latino/a/e.

Avoid the term "Latin" unless it is a reference to "Latin America."

Latina(s) is appropriate for individuals who identify as a woman/women, unless the person/people prefer Latinx.

Chicano/a is a term that refers to Americans of Mexican ancestry.

Again, be sure to ask the individual/group how they prefer to be identified. The individual may prefer, for example, a gender-inclusive and neutral term like Latinx or Latin@, or a broader term, like Afro-Latino (the person may identify as both African or African American and Latino/a).

Also, be aware of gender when using Latino and Chicano in your writing.

Latinidad and Latin@ are emerging terms that may be favored by younger generations. 

Asian, Asian American

Asian American and Pacific Islanders and related terms (no hyphen)

When writing about someone or a group of this background, ask the person how they prefer to be referred to. Specifically, if it makes more sense to refer to a specific background—e.g., Japanese, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino—use that term rather than a collective noun.

Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA): This is the preferred term to use, versus Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), or Asian American Pacific Americans. The latter is not incorrect, but for consistency's sake, we recommend the preferred use.

South Asian: This collective term refers to people from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Desi-American is a term commonly used by people from India, but not by all South Asians. Check with the source/individual to confirm how they prefer to be identified and ensure that identifying their race/ethnicity is essential to the content you're creating.

American Indian, Alaska Native, Hawaiian Native, Native American, Native People, Indigenous People

Native American and related terms (no hyphen)

The most inclusive and accurate term to use to refer to those who inhabited land that became the United States (or, previously, territories) is: American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN).

You may also see the terms:

  • ​​​First Nation 

  • First People(s)

  • Indigenous People(s)

  • Native People(s)

  • Tribal Communities

  • Tribal People

Always ask someone how they prefer to be identified, including Hawaiian Natives. The person may prefer that you refer to them by their tribally specific nation. If a tribal name is used, ask for a phonetic spelling of the name.

American Indians and Alaska Natives/Hawaiian Natives have a distinct political and cultural identification constructed in and through treaties, executive orders and the Constitution. American Indian and Alaska Native/Hawaiian Natives' cultural identification is place-based, diverse, and informed by the practices of their culture (e.g., language, singing, dancing, ceremonies).


Caucasian / White the W in white is often and remains lowercase according to the Associated Press. However, the National Association of Black Journalists (2020) recommends "...that whenever a color is used to appropriately describe race then it should be capitalized, including White and Brown."

The Center for the Study of Social Policy also makes an impassioned case for the capitalization of White as well as Black. “We believe that it is important to call attention to White as a race as a way to understand and give voice to how Whiteness functions in our social and political institutions and our communities,” staff members Ann Thúy Nguyễn and Maya Pendleton wrote in a post on the organization’s website. “Moreover, the detachment of ‘White’ as a proper noun allows White people to sit out of conversations about race and removes accountability from White people’s and White institutions’ involvement in racism.

In addition, the American Psychological Association Style Guide recommends capitalizing both White and Black, but it advises against using other “colors to refer to other human groups; doing so is considered pejorative.” 

Race and Ethnicity: Terms to Avoid 

Do not use the term "colored person/people." Use a broader term, like "people of color," which refers to any person who is not white, especially in the U.S. You may see this referenced as "POC." This acronym may be used, but only after the phrase it stands for (i.e., people of color) is shared on first use.

In general, no racial or ethnic slur should ever be included in what you write. You may consider an exception if your content is about this slur (as in a research study examining use of the word) or, possibly, if it is essential to your piece and is used in quotes. In this case, ensure that its use is absolutely necessary and that your source has approved the attribution of the slur(s) to them.

This Atlantic article is useful in identifying when it might be permissible to use an ethnic slur in your writing. If you're in doubt, please Ask the Editor. It's worth mentioning that the Department of Homeland Security considers the use of ethnic slurs a form of harassment on the basis of race and/or national origin in some circumstances.


  • Avoid stereotypes.

  • Place the humanity and leadership of people of color at the center.

  • Ensure that headlines, images, captions, and graphics are fair and responsible in their depiction of people of color and coverage of issues.

  • Use a multiracial lens and consider all communities of color.

  • Use racial and ethnic identification when it is pertinent to a story and use it fairly, identifying white individuals if people of other races/ethnicities are identified.

Source: Race Forward

APA tips on writing about Socioeconomic Status

The ways in which we talk and write about students who are low-income should convey compassion, inclusion, and sensitivity. Writing about poverty and those who do not have the money they need is, of course, a sensitive matter and sometimes a source of shame and stigma for the student.

Participation in programs targeted to students who are low-income or whose parents are low-income (e.g. Pell-eligible or receiving Pell) are common proxies for "low-income." Proxies are used primarily because measures related to students' economic well-being are often unobserved in the higher education context, as parental income/wealth is highly confidential.

While these categorizations or proxies can be helpful in demonstrating context, they are only proxies and not equivalent to "low-income." For example, only U.S. citizens and green card-holders are Pell-eligible, so this would not refer to undocumented students. 

There are several terms that are often used in the context of discussing students of low-income backgrounds.

  • Socioeconomic status (SES): Tends to refer to a combination of factors related to a student's social class. In the context of students, this typically includes family income, parental education (e.g., first-generation status), and parental occupation.
  • Underrepresented: Underrepresented refers to racial and ethnic populations that are represented at disproportionately low levels in higher education. Historically means that this is a 10-year or longer trend at a given school.
  • Underrepresented minorities (URMs) are African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Latinos, who have historically comprised a minority of the U.S. population. The term is mostly used for reporting aggregate student data. At UNC Charlotte, URM also includes Two or More Races.
  • Underserved: Underserved students are defined as those who do not receive equitable resources as other students in the academic pipeline. Typically, these groups of students include low-income, racial/ethnic minorities ("people of color" or "students of color" is the preferred use, not "minorities"), and first-generation students, among others.
  • "Historically underserved" students are defined as low-income students, those who are first in their families to attend college, and students of color. "First-generation students" refers to their parent's/parents' highest education level is high school diploma or less.
  • There is no standard definition of what "first-generation college student" means, but it can be used to refer to students who are "among the first in their family to go to college" (e.g., their parents did not attend college) and/or students who are "among the first in their family to graduate from college" (e.g., their parents' highest level of education is some college).


When Writing About and for Students from Low-Income Backgrounds

  • Choose "food security" over "food insecurity" (a deficit-focused approach). A student may be facing food security issues or concerns. "Hunger" is a symptom of very low food security, but "hunger" and "hungry" should be used carefully.

  • Choose "homelessness" over "housing insecurity" (not "housing instability"). Consider that both housing and food security issues fall on a spectrum, with homelessness being the most urgent, acute end of the housing security spectrum.

  • Dealing with a lack of money, food, and/or reliable housing is a source of shame for some, but not all, students. Approach the topic with sensitivity and ask exactly what the student feels comfortable sharing in any content that will be made public, including photographs. Encourage a framework that helps students understand they are not alone. Describe the issue as a national housing and financial aid crisis that pushes many students into these circumstances, rather than a personal problem or one that blames the student.

  • While the term "underserved" is commonly used to mean those who are low-income and historically underrepresented, you may want to consider using the term "under-resourced."

  • Be aware of encouraging any perception that students are "working the system" to get free food or other assistance.

  • Don't use "poor," "impoverished," "underprivileged," or "disadvantaged" to describe students who are low-income.

  • Listen carefully to how a student or another source tells their story and use similar or the same language. Watch for assumptions and biases in your writing about the reasons for their income status, stereotypes, etc.


A basic inclusive marketing overview from Intouch Group highlights the following: 

  • Imagery can be inclusive. Consider what a patient, a healthcare professional, a caregiver, or a family could look like. […] 

  • Copy can be inclusive and neutral, not specific to the point of exclusivity. Consider the implied meanings as well as the specific words. 

  • Options in menus and drop-down choices can be reconsidered. Can your databases handle options outside a gender binary? Must you include a gender-based honorific?” 

Messaging and Marketing for Accessibility


Visual Resources

  • This helpful resource from provides a number of free websites that offer inclusive stock imagery that could help your department reflect its commitment to serving a diverse student body online. 

  • iStock offers background on the many types of visual diversity that your images can and should represent, including age, body type, race, ethnicity, and more.

  • Getty Images Visual GPS offers both insight and resources for more inclusive visual marketing.


Race and Ethnicity | Disability and Ability | LGBTQ+ | Mental Health | Religion |More Guides and Resources


Associated Press Stylebook: Race-Related Coverage

Reporting and writing about issues involving race calls for thoughtful consideration, precise language, and an openness to discussions with others of diverse backgrounds about how to frame coverage or what language is most appropriate, accurate and fair. The AP Stylebook offers a section on race-related coverage. The AP Stylebook also has entries on holidays and holy days, religion, gender-neutral language, gender and sexuality, and disabilities.

Racial Equity Tools Glossary

Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. It offers tools, research, tips, curricula, and ideas for people who want to increase their understanding and to help those working for racial justice at every level–in systems, organizations, communities, and the culture at large. The site curates resources that use language and analysis reflecting an understanding of systemic racism, power and privilege and are accessible online and free to users.

Asian American Journalists Association: Covering Asia and Asian Americans

Asian American Journalists Association is a membership nonprofit advancing diversity in newsrooms and ensuring fair and accurate coverage of communities of color. AAJA has more than 1,600 members across the United States and Asia. Its website offers guidance, resources, statements and news releases concerning coverage of Asian Americans in the United States and Asia.

Indigenous Peoples: Language Guidelines (The University of British Columbia)

The terminology used in public discourse has rarely been actually preferred by Indigenous people, who most often refer to themselves by the traditional name of their specific group. Using the best terminology in any situation is not just a matter of being “politically correct” but respectful and accurate. Version 3.0 of this guide has been produced to help communicators navigate the terminology and meanings associated with this subject in order to produce the best—and most respectful—results, with the recognition that, as time passes, the terminology is subject to change and this guide will again need to be refreshed. Please note that this guide is not a comprehensive treatment of this complex subject, but it is an entry point. Users are encouraged to expand their knowledge on the matter by referring to other sources, some of which are listed at the end of this document.

Reporting in Indigenous Communities Resources

This online compilation of educational resources was created to assist journalists who report on Indigenous communities.

National Association of Black Journalists Style Guide

NABJ Style is offered as a stylebook for newsrooms and others on terms and language usage of special interest or relevance to NABJ membership and anyone else in newsrooms and journalism classrooms as well as other students, educators and researchers, etc.

National Association of Hispanic Journalists Cultural Competence Handbook 2020

The purpose of this manual is to help journalists, students and academics:

  • communicate with and about diverse collectives, recognizing the differences or variety in people’s identities or experiences –– ethnicity, race, national origin, language, gender, religion, ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, immigration status, etc.

  • Develop a working vocabulary related to diversity issues, avoiding stereotypes

This NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook is intended to complement the Stylebooks of individual publications such as The Associated Press stylebook –– the leading stylebook in U.S. newsrooms.  The handbook reflects NAHJ’s mission to promote fair, accurate and inclusive coverage of the Latino community.

Writing About Slavery? Teaching About Slavery?

Senior slavery scholars of color community-sourced this short guide to share with and be used by editors, presses, museums, journalists and curricular projects as well as by teachers, writers, curators, archivists, librarians and public historians. Considering the legal, demographic and other particularities of institutions of slavery in various parts of the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, and also considering how slavery changed over time, this guide is a set of suggestions that raises questions and sensitivities rather than serving as a checklist that enforces any set of orthodoxies.

American Philosophical Association Drop the I-Word

From the Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, this campaign is part of a larger body for work dedicated to ending the mass criminalization of communities of color. For more information view the Journalist Style Guide for Covering Immigration and Three Reasons Why We Should Drop the I-Word.

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National Association on Disability and Journalism Disability Style Guide

As language, perceptions and social mores change seemingly faster and faster, it is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists and other communicators to figure out how to refer to people with disabilities. Even the term “disability” is no longer universally accepted. This style guide, developed by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University, is intended to help. It covers almost 200 words and terms commonly used when referring to disability, most of which are not covered in The Associated Press style guide. Some recommendations included here are not addressed by the AP Style Guide.

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A Guide to Gender Identity Terms

NPR, an independent, nonprofit media organization that was founded on a mission to create a more informed public, has put together a glossary of terms relating to gender identity. The goal is to help people communicate accurately and respectfully with one another. Proper use of gender identity terms, including pronouns, is a crucial way to signal courtesy and acceptance. This guide was created with help from GLAAD. NPR also referenced resources from the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Trans Journalists Association, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Human Rights Campaign, InterAct and the American Psychological Association. This guide is not exhaustive, and is Western and U.S.-centric. Other cultures may use different labels and have other conceptions of gender.

Note: Language changes. Some of the terms now in common usage are different from those used in the past to describe similar ideas, identities and experiences. Some people may continue to use terms that are less commonly used now to describe themselves, and some people may use different terms entirely. What’s important is recognizing and respecting people as individuals.

GLAAD Media Reference Guide

GLAAD is an American nongovernmental media monitoring organization, founded as a protest against defamatory coverage of LGBT people. GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide is intended to be used by journalists reporting for mainstream media outlets and by creators in entertainment media who want to tell LGBTQ people’s stories fairly and accurately. It is not intended to be an all-inclusive glossary of language used within the LGBTQ community, nor is it a prescriptive guide for LGBTQ people.

Human Rights Campaign Glossary of Terms/Tools for Equality and Inclusion

This glossary was written to help give people the words and meanings to help make conversations easier and more comfortable. LGBTQ people use a variety of terms to identify themselves, not all of which are included in this glossary. Always listen for and respect a person’s self identified terminology. HRC also has compiled tools for equality and inclusion on a range of topics.

Trans Journalists Association Style Guide

The Trans Journalists Association’s Style Guide is a tool reporters, editors and other media makers can use to begin to improve trans coverage. It gives insight into appropriate language, common shortcomings, and steps journalists can take to make their coverage better. While this guide provides a strong foundation for covering trans communities with sensitivity and care, trans communities are diverse. The language some trans people use to describe themselves and their communities might be different from or even contradict parts of this guide. Reporting well on trans communities requires nuance and care, and this guide is only a starting point.

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Mental Health Coalition Language Guide

The Mental Health Coalition Language Guide aims to help people talk about mental health in a respectful and inclusive manner.

Well Beings Mental Health Language Guide

Also, the Well Beings Mental Health Language Guide includes a glossary, a list of other resources and a calendar of important days, weeks and months relative to mental health.

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Religion Stylebook

The Religion Stylebook is an easy-to-use guide created for journalists who report on religion in the mainstream media. It is an independent supplement to The Associated Press Stylebook and is a service of the Religion Newswriters Association.

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Conscious Style Guide

Conscious Style Guide exists to help writers and editors think critically about using language—including words, portrayals, framing and representation—to empower instead of limit. In one place, you can access style guides covering terminology for various communities and find links to key articles debating usage. One of Poynter’s top tools for journalists in 2018, Conscious Style Guide is also recommended by NASA, BuzzFeed, The Chicago Manual of Style Online, the Society of Professional Journalists, ACES: The Society for Editing, Mailchimp, and 18F, a government agency.

Diversity Style Guide

The Diversity Style Guide is a resource to help journalists and other media professionals cover a complex, multicultural world with accuracy, authority and sensitivity. This guide, initially a project of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University, brings together definitions and information from more than two dozen style guides, journalism organizations and other resources. The guide contains more than 700 terms related to race/ethnicity, disability, immigration, sexuality and gender identity, drugs and alcohol, and geography.

American Psychological Association APA Style

The guidelines for bias-free language contain general guidelines for writing about people without bias across a range of topics and specific guidelines that address the individual characteristics of age, disability, gender, participation in research, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality. These guidelines and recommendations were crafted by panels of experts on APA’s bias-free language committees.

Linguistic Society of America

Guidelines for Inclusive Language grew out of the Guidelines for Nonsexist Usage, originally developed by the Linguistic Society of America’s Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics, and formally approved by the Executive Committee in 1996. The focus of the guidelines has been revised and expanded since the inaugural edition to reflect a broader focus on inclusive language. While the guidelines still address issues related to gender, they also address issues related to minorities, disabilities and other demographic characteristics of the LSA membership and readership of which authors and presenters should be aware, and to which they should be sensitive in their communication.