Inclusive language guidelines
A coherent and INCLUSIVE use of LANGUAGE is required throughout your manuscript, FREE FROM STEREOTYPES and sexism. Be reminded that there are more inclusive options available to address people outside the male/female binary to highlight every person in discourse without discriminating against anyone. It is advisable to mark or make reference to gender only when it is relevant for the context. Likewise, use the identified pronouns of the person you are referring to, if they are known to you. If not, there are ways of addressing that person without gendering.
- Do not use man as designator of humanity.
Example: “Humankind”; “humanity”; “human race” instead of “Mankind”, “Artificial”; “human-caused” instead of “Man-made”
- Avoid gendered endings such as “man” in occupational titles. Instead, use a nongendered term when available.
Example: “police officer” instead of “policeman”, “homemaker” instead of “housewife”.
- If you use sources that include “man,” or “he” to signify humans, or dated occupational titles, clarify the context in which they were used.
- Avoid gendered nouns when describing people who may be of any gender. Instead, use gender-inclusive nouns to describe people.
Example: “Everyone”, “first-year student” instead of “ladies and gentlemen,” “freshman.”
- Do not use gendered pronouns or gendered pronoun combinations such as “he or she” when describing a hypothetical person whose gender is irrelevant to the context, because they assume gender; instead, use the singular “they”. Sexist bias can occur when gendered pronouns are used carelessly, reinforcing gender stereotypes (e.g., “the nurse . . . she”), or reinforcing the idea that they are generic.
- Use gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them either in singular or plural when the identified/preferred pronoun is not known to avoid gendering, and the identified/preferred pronoun when known.
- Avoid alternating the use of masculine and feminine pronouns in an article unless it refers to shifting gender identities. Allow the form s/he only under similar circumstances, unless this is a preferred form of reference or related to transitioning.
- When referring to generic subjects, plural antecedents may be used in order to avoid gendering.
Example: “Authors must verify that they have followed the guidelines for submission.” instead of “An author must verify that he has followed the guidelines for submission.”
- Use the pronoun one.
Example: “A nurse in Spain earns less than one in Germany.” instead of “A nurse in Spain earns less than he would in Germany.”
- Use the relative pronoun who.
Example: “A consumer who is not satisfied with the product can ask for a refund.” instead of “If a consumer is not satisfied with the product, she can ask for a refund.”
- Use the passive voice.
Example: “The author of a communication must have direct and reliable evidence of the situation being described.” instead of “The author of a communication must have direct and reliable evidence of the situation he is describing.”
- Avoid gender-biased expressions or expressions that reinforce gender stereotypes.
Example: “Guests are cordially invited to attend with their partners.” instead of “Guests are cordially invited to attend with their wives.”
- Refer to people who have changed their names by the name they are currently using at the time of publication, in both the text and reference list. If the preferred name is not known, cite the current name as far as you know it, and in brackets provide the name under which the original work was published, in order to facilitate access to the publication.
- Use identity labels that are in accordance with the stated identities of the people you are describing.
- Avoid referring to one gender as the “opposite gender”; appropriate wording may be “another gender.” since not everyone identifies with either binary gender, and this phrase ignore intersex people.
- Authors are encouraged not to assume the gender of the participants that make their research sample and explicitly designate information about their gender identities with options that go beyond the binary.
This guide has been elaborated taking these sources as references:
- The United Nations Gender-inclusive Language Guidelines:
- The APA’s style bias free language guidelines: