How To Speak To Your Audience When Writing

The language reference sheet for everyone

Unless it's absolutely necessary, don't bring up age, color, or ethnicity. If it's appropriate, use adjectives instead of nouns to describe age, race, or ethnicity, such as "Hispanic people" instead of "Hispanics" or "older people" instead of "the elderly."
Consider your audience when speaking publicly about people with impairments. Some people prefer person-first language (disabled person/people), while others prefer identity-first language (people/people with disabilities). Person-first is the rule under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), however Webflow's impaired community affinity group favors identity-first. If you're unsure, ask.
Avoid phrases like "crazy," "insane," "psycho/psychotic," and those that pertain to psychiatric problems. Alternatives include crazy, frantic, surreal, unbelievable, and so on.
Avoid using the terms "guys," "man/men," or words that include them, "he/she," or any other gendered language to refer to individuals or groups of individuals (unless pronouns are verified). Alternatives include people, a group, everyone, they/them/theirs, humans/human beings, and so on.
The word "identifies as" invalidates the experiences of trans and non-binary persons. People who are trans or non-binary don't identify with the gender — or lack thereof — they are that gender. “They are non-binary,” rather than “They identify as non-binary,” for example.
Avoid referring to circumstances or using words or images that promote preconceptions and biases based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or other factors. "Sometimes professors become so engrossed in their work that they neglect their wives and children," for example. "Professors sometimes grow so absorbed in their work that they neglect their family," would be a more true statement.
Avoid using phrases like "non-white" or "non-white" that assume whiteness as a given.
Capitalize "Black" when referring to African-Americans. Capitalize the words "Native" and "Indigenous" when referring to Native or Indigenous people.
The terms "blacklist," "whitelist," and "master" are metaphors for race and captivity. Block/permit/allow, main/primary are some of the options.
Getting more explicit about what you're attempting to express is often the best method to write more inclusively. For example, instead of saying "that's crazy," say "that's unheard of."

Also, don't make any assumptions. Inquire about how people identify themselves, and be aware of the complexity of racial, ethnic, gender, and religious identities in general.

Author: Joshua Rhills, Writer

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