Is it preferable to refer to someone as a person with autism, or as an autistic person? Should you explain the use of unconventional personal pronouns in stories? When do you use the term Indigenous and when do you use the term Aboriginal? What’s wrong with saying that someone “suffers from” a certain condition? The following diversity style guides and other resources can help journalists critically examine their stories for problematic issues.
Style Guides That Address Multiple Dimensions of Diversity
- The Conscious Style Guide provides resources, articles, and newsletters on topics like age, gender, race, appearance, and religion.
- The Diversity Style Guide from San Francisco State University’s journalism department includes terms and phrases related to topics like age, drugs and alcohol, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and race and ethnicity.
- The Global Press Style Guide offers rules for referring to the people of the more than two dozen developing countries where the Global Press Journal reporters work.
- The ACS Inclusivity Style Guide aims to help staff of the American Chemical Society staff and members communicate in ways that recognize and respect diversity in all its forms.
- Language, Please, produced by Vox Media, is a free resource for journalists “seeking to thoughtfully cover evolving social, cultural, and identity-related topics.”
- Not a style guide per se, but a valuable resource: The Society of Professional Journalists and the Trans Journalists Association have teamed up to create the Race and Gender Hotline, a free consultation service to help reporters on deadline address questions about race and gender in their stories.
- The Photographer’s Guide to Inclusive Photography, produced by PhotoShelter and Authority Collective, discusses issues related to photographing race, gender, the Global South, Indigenous communities, and LGBTQ+ communities.
- The Symmetry Style Guide: Writing about People with Dignity is specifically aimed at writers working on journalistic articles for Symmetry magazine, but it could be helpful to a wider audience as well.
Style Guides That Address Coverage of Specific Communities and Issues
Race and Ethnicity
- The Asian American Journalists Association has published a guide to covering Asian America.
- The National Association of Black Journalists has a style guide on terms and language related to Black American history, culture, and current issues.
- The National Association of Hispanic Journalists publishes a downloadable Cultural Competence Handbook that aims to help journalists and others “develop a working vocabulary related to diversity issues, avoiding stereotypes.”
- The Native American Journalists Association maintains numerous reporting guides on specific topics relevant to reporting on Indigenous communities.
- The University of British Columbia offers language guidelines on writing about Indigenous peoples.
Gender and Sexuality
- Gender Spectrum, a nonprofit dedicated to creating gender sensitivity and inclusive environments for children and teens, provides information about understanding gender on their website.
- GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide is intended to help journalists and other creators tell LGBTQ people’s stories fairly and accurately.
- NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists provides a stylebook supplement offering resources on covering LGBTQ issues; it’s intended to complement publications’ stylebooks.
- The Radical Copy Editor’s Style Guide for Writing about Transgender People is a usage guide for bias-free, respectful, and inclusive language in reference to transgender people.
- The Trans Journalists Association’s Style Guide is a tool reporters, editors and other media makers can use to begin to improve trans coverage.
Health, Disability, Addiction, and Aging
- The National Center on Disability and Journalism has a page of resources for writers and editors, including their Disability Language Style Guide.
The Center for Disability Rights’ Disability Writing & Journalism Guidelines are intended to help journalists learn about the disability community and understand “how to talk about disability in a way that is not harmful.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act National Network’s Guidelines for Writing about People with Disabilities offer guidance for portraying people with disabilities “in a respectful and balanced way by using language that is accurate, neutral and objective.”
The University of Kansas Research & Training Center on Independent Living’s Guidelines: How to Write about People with Disabilities is a resource for “communicators who seek guidance on objective, respectful disability terminology.”
The AIDS Foundation Chicago Style Guide offers guidelines for writers on how to use “language that is non-stigmatizing, celebratory and reaffirming of the communities AFC serves.”
- The National Eating Disorders Association offers guidance for journalists covering eating disorders.
- Reporting on Addiction’s expanded style guide provides definitions of common terminology related to addiction science and medicine and recommends language choices to decrease stigma in reporting. A condensed style guide is also available.
- The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction’s Stigma Primer for Journalists provides guidance for reporting on substance use and the people it impacts.
- The International Longevity Center has a style guide for members of the media writing about aging.
- The Dart Center Style Guide for Trauma-Informed Journalism provides guidance on terminology and ethics in reporting on the impact of trauma on individuals, families, and communities, and in reporting on trauma-laden issues such as racism and sexual violence.
- The Marshall Project offers a guide for writing about covering people who are and have been incarcerated.
(This resource list was originally published by The Open Notebook on January 21, 2020 in “Gut Check: Working with a Sensitivity Reader,” by Jane C. Hu. It was most recently updated in June 2023. Have we missed a valuable resource? Please let us know.)