Inclusive Language

Dear Writers, Speakers, Knowledge Makers . . .
Please give us a moment. We are in the process of updating our old notes below, talking with colleagues about the topic, and trying to revise our inclusive language guidelines. Meanwhile, if you have a suggestion, please tell us by using the form below. Thanks.

Inclusive language is language that is respectful and sensitive to gender, ethnicity, or disability.


Language that is inclusive and fair to others contributes to the credibility of the writer and upholds the audience’s sense of dignity and self-worth. Just as writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . hope their audience will be willing to respect their point of view, they need to respect their readers’ point of view and rhetorical stance.

You are wise to carefully revise and edit your diction, point of view, and rhetorical stance after careful rhetorical analysis and rhetorical reasoning.

  • Use gender-inclusive language:
    • he or she or they instead of he
    • humankind instead of mankind
    • garbage collector instead of garbage man
    • server instead of waitress
  • Use correct or accepted racial and ethnic terms:
    • African American instead of colored or Negro
    • Asian instead of Oriental
    • American Indian or Native American instead of Indian
    • Native Alaskan or Inuit instead of Eskimo
    • Hispanic instead of Spanish
    • Latino instead of Mexican
  • Use language that respects people for who they are or recognizes a specific ailment:
    • persons with disabilities instead of handicapped, challenged, disabled, or retarded
    • visually impaired instead of blind
    • persons with hearing loss instead of deaf individuals
    • mentally ill instead of crazy, moron, or loony
    • those with arthritis instead of arthritis sufferers
    • people with diabetes instead of diabetes patients