Sponsored by

Logo with the text Copyediting: Because editing matters

Logo with the text Jamie Leigh Kenlin

About Conscious Style Guide

Conscious Style Guide’s mission is to promote tools for thinking critically about the ways that conscious words, portrayals, framing, and representation can empower ourselves and one another in mass media and interpersonal communications.

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 PeachCopyediting 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.

Karen Yin

Karen Yin

Founder, Conscious Style Guide

Winner of the 2017 Robinson Prize for furthering the craft of professional editing, 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 as well as screenwriter and filmmaker.


Meet Our Advisory Council

Steve Bien-Aimé

Steve Bien-Aimé

Assistant professor, Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University

Steve Bien-Aimé, PhD, is an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, where he teaches journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication. Prior to receiving his doctorate from the College of Communications at Penn State, Bien-Aimé worked as a copy editor at 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. His research interests include race and gender portrayals in news and sports media.

Henry Fuhrmann

Henry Fuhrmann

Adjunct instructor, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Henry Fuhrmann, an adjunct instructor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, worked at the Los Angeles Times from 1990 to 2015. Before retiring as an assistant managing editor, he led the print and digital copy desks, chaired the standards and practices committee, and oversaw the editorial stylebook. He is a longtime local leader of the Asian American Journalists Association and serves as a member of the executive board of ACES: The Society for Editing.

Alice Y. Hom

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. As a Soros Equality Fellow, Alice is working on a digital media project focused on historical and contemporary stories of intersectional activism by queer and trans people of color. She previously served as the director of the Queer Justice Fund at Asian Americans / Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP). Governor Jerry Brown appointed Alice to the California Humanities board of directors in 2012, and she joined the Borealis Philanthropy board in 2015. Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Alice to the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women in 2017. She is the co-editor of 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.

Rick Kenney

Rick Kenney

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.

Ingin Kim

Ingin Kim

Owner, Peri Coffee and Ninety Plus

Ingin Kim, owner and designer of EyePop Studio, is a veteran of the animation industry as artist and director. She is also founder of Peri Coffee, a micro specialty coffee roaster in Los Angeles, and 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.

Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton

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.

terrywolverton.com | writersatwork.com

Share This

Language evolves. Be included.


Our monthly newsletter rounds up the best writing from the world of kind, compassionate, mindful, empowering, respectful, and inclusive language.


We respect your privacy. Opt out anytime.

Thank you for subscribing!