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A Brief History
The Conscious Style Guide website made its official debut in 2015 by sponsoring the American Copy Editors Society conference. The response has been tremendous. CSG has been featured by Zapier, Lucky Peach, Copyediting and Tracking Changes and promoted in dozens of articles. It has been adopted as an official reference by corporations such as MailChimp and 18F, a government agency.
The idea behind creating a style guide dedicated to conscious language unfolded during autumn 2011. Karen Yin, the writer/editor behind the popular AP vs. Chicago, wanted to feature work on kind, compassionate, mindful, empowering, respectful, and inclusive language in one place. Increasing access meant increasing awareness; increasing awareness meant increasing use.
Many of us—writers, editors, educators, students, to name a few—seek people terminology that is more accurate, logical, and reasonable but don’t have the time or the will to comb through the Internet. Though many marginalized communities had published media guides, locating these was another story. And once you found one, it might not capture opposing perspectives. Conscious Style Guide will help you form and polish your rationale to make educated choices.
The point is to peel back the layers and invite you into the discussion. Conscious language is tipping because we are pushing.
What Is Conscious Language, Anyway?
Conscious language is the art of using words effectively in a specific context. Who is your audience? What tone and level of formality do you want? What are you trying to achieve? Some words are more apt than others.
The most important part of conscious language is the conscious part—our intention. Good writers consciously use disagreeable language to strike a dissonant tone. The goal is not to be inoffensive or politically correct (whatever that means), because even language intended to be inclusive and considerate is deeply offensive to many. If you’re interested in conscious language, then know your intention, and evoke and provoke skillfully.
As with life, have fun with language.
Founder, Conscious Style Guide
Karen Yin is the creator of AP vs. Chicago, a guide for anyone who gives “a dollar sign, ampersand, exclamation point, and pound sign about style,” and Conscious Style Guide, a reference site for inclusive, compassionate, and empowering language. A copywriter and editor for over two decades, Yin ran the editorial department at advertising agencies, where she performed quality control on campaigns for Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, Pixar, Universal, and Warner Bros., and now serves clients in mass media, education, and energy. She is the style columnist for Copyediting and has given presentations on LGBTQ terminology, sexist language, racist language, and androgyny. A fellow of the prestigious Lambda Literary Foundation, Yin is also an award-winning fiction writer, screenwriter, and filmmaker.
Meet Our Advisory Council
PhD Candidate, College of Communications, Penn State University
Steve Bien-Aimé is a doctoral candidate in the College of Communications at Penn State. His research interests include race and gender portrayals in news and sports media. Before entering graduate school, Bien-Aimé worked as a copy editor at both The News Journal in Delaware and The Baltimore Sun and served in a variety of functions at FOXSports.com in Los Angeles, departing as deputy NFL editor.
Alice Y. Hom
Consultant, Hom Consulting
Alice Y. Hom, PhD, is a community builder invested in bridging diverse and overlapping communities to raise resources, nurture leaders, and build the capacity of organizations for social change. Currently, Alice is consulting with individuals and organizations in the nonprofit, philanthropic, humanities, and film/media sectors. She previously served as the director of the Queer Justice Fund at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP). From 2001 to 2006, Alice was the founding director of the Intercultural Community Center at Occidental College. Governor Jerry Brown appointed Alice to the California Humanities board of directors in 2012, and she joined the Borealis Philanthropy board in 2015. She is the co-editor of an award-winning anthology, Q & A: Queer in Asian America, and has published articles in various journals and anthologies. She holds a PhD in history from Claremont Graduate University, an MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA, and a BA from Yale University.
Chair, Department of Communications, Augusta University
Rick Kenney, PhD, is a former journalist and now a journalism educator and media ethicist. He is chair of the Department of Communications at Augusta (Ga.) University. He writes about media discourse in news coverage of minorities and other marginalized people. He has published in academic journals and scholarly books about media representations of the Roma of Europe, Negro League baseball players, transnational communities, and LBGQTI persons. He also is a scholar of Japanese communication, culture, and philosophy.
Owner, Peri Coffee and Ninety Plus
Ingin Kim is an owner of Ninety Plus, an internationally renowned producer of rare and exclusive specialty coffee with a mission to promote sustainable practices and preserve wildlife on its estates. She is a veteran of the animation industry as artist, director, and manager. After twenty years, she parlayed her experience into her own design studio, EyePop Studio, where she continues to provide services as a consultant. She is also founder of Peri Coffee, a wholesale roaster of craft coffee.
Author, Poet, Teacher
Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, including Embers, a novel in poems, and Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman’s Building. In addition, she has edited fourteen successful compilations, including (with Robert Drake) the Lambda Literary Award-winning His: Brilliant New Fiction by Gay Men and Hers: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbians, volumes 1, 2, and 3. Terry has taught creative writing in community settings for over three decades; in 1997, she founded Writers at Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles, where she teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also an associate faculty mentor for the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles.