About Conscious Style Guide

Conscious Style Guide’s mission is to develop and organize tools that promote critical thinking about language and ways we can use conscious words, portrayals, framing, and representation to empower instead of limit.

Launched in 2015, the Conscious Style Guide website has been featured by Zapier, Lucky PeachCopyediting and Tracking Changes and adopted as an official reference by MailChimp and 18F, a government agency. BuzzFeed cites Conscious Style Guide‘s “Drop the Hyphen in Asian American as the impetus for changing its style on using hyphens to denote dual heritage.

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 seek 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 have created media guides, locating them was challenging—and once you found one, it might not present opposing perspectives. Conscious Style Guide will help you construct 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 can be received the wrong way. If you’re interested in conscious language, then clarify 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,” Conscious Style Guide, a reference site for inclusive, compassionate, and empowering language, and Editors of Color, tools for diversifying your staff and sources. For more information, visit karenyin.com.

Meet Our Advisory Council

Steve Bien-Aimé

Steve Bien-Aimé

Incoming assistant professor of journalism at Northern Kentucky University

Steve Bien-Aimé, PhD, is an incoming assistant professor of journalism at Northern Kentucky University. 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.

Rick Kenney

Rick Kenney

Journalism Educator

Rick Kenney, PhD, is a former journalist and now a journalism educator and media ethicist. 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.

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