Answered By: Priscilla Coulter
Last Updated: Mar 16, 2022     Views: 137

When you are describing other people in terms of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, (dis)ability or age, it's important to be sure that you are using inclusive language. Allowing biased or offensive terms to slip into your work, even unintentionally, will damage your credibility and risks alienating your readers.     

The following style guides offer helpful advice for avoiding biased or insensitive language as you write:

APA Style: Bias-Free Language

Chicago Manual of Style:

MLA Style: Currently, MLA does not offer inclusive or bias-free language guidelines online.  If you do not have a copy of the MLA Handbook, it should be acceptable to refer to the styles above, as their advice is likely to be similar.  Check with your instructor to be sure.  

If you do not see the information that you need, try Googling terms like inclusive language or bias-free language.  There are a number of excellent guides to choose from, such as the OHSU Inclusive Language Guide (PDF file).  Be sure that you rely on guidelines from credible sites (.edu and .gov websites are usually safe choices). 

diversity equity inclusion belonging EDI DEI DEIB LGBTQ LGBTQ+ race racism


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