Coming: Conscious Language the Book!


Sky-blue book icon on a black background. Title: Conscious Language. Byline: Karen Yin.

I’m pleased to announce that my nonfiction book, Conscious Language, will be published by Little, Brown Spark. In my guide to promoting equity through language, I will share my insights on mindful and inclusive language while encouraging adoption of conscious language as a tool for self-awareness and empowerment. Please subscribe to The Conscious Language Newsletter for updates.

About Conscious Style Guide

Welcome to Conscious Style Guide, the first website devoted to conscious language. My mission is to help writers and editors think critically about using language—including words, portrayals, framing, and representation—to empower instead of limit. In one place, you can access style guides covering terminology for various communities and find articles debating usage. We study words so that they can become tools instead of unwitting weapons.

I launched Conscious Style Guide and The Conscious Language Newsletter in 2015, but the idea behind them unfolded in 2011. As the writer/editor behind AP vs. Chicago and the Editors of Color Database, I wanted to gather work on compassionate, mindful, empowering, respectful, and inclusive language in one place. 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. Many marginalized communities provide media guides, but locating them was challenging—and once you found one, it might not present opposing perspectives. Conscious Style Guide helps you construct and polish your rationale to make educated choices. The point is to peel back the layers and invite you into the discussion. Increasing access increases awareness, and increasing awareness increases use.

Content and context work together, so I avoid a one-word-fits-all approach. Instead, I encourage you to immerse yourself in the ongoing conversations about equity-based language so you can come to your own conclusions about what is more effective for you and your audience.

One of Poynter’s top tools for journalists in 2018, Conscious Style Guide is also recommended by NASA, BuzzFeed, The Chicago Manual of Style, the Society of Professional Journalists, ACES: The Society for Editing, Mailchimp, and 18F.

Conscious language is tipping because we are pushing.

What Is Conscious Language, Anyway?

I coined the term conscious language to describe language that promotes equity, used skillfully in a specific context. Using conscious language involves asking yourself questions such as:

  • What are my assumptions about my audience?
  • Will this cause harm to historically excluded communities?
  • How will history alter the impact of my language choices?

The most important part of conscious language is the conscious part. Good writers consciously use disagreeable language to strike a dissonant tone. The goal is not to be nice, inoffensive, or politically correct; even language intended to be inclusive and considerate might offend. If you’re interested in using language consciously, then clarify your intentions and evoke and provoke skillfully.

As with life, have fun with language.


Karen Yin

Karen Yin

Winner of the 2017 ACES Robinson Prize for furthering the craft of professional editing, Karen Yin is the creator of Conscious Style Guide, the essential guide to conscious language, and The Conscious Language Newsletter; the Editors of Color Database and Diverse Databases, tools for diversifying your staff and sources; and AP vs. Chicago, a guide for anyone who gives “a dollar sign, ampersand, exclamation point, and pound sign about style.”

Karen is the author of children’s books, including Whole Whale (Barefoot Books) and So Not Ghoul (Page Street Kids), and the upcoming nonfiction book Conscious Language (Little, Brown Spark). For more information, visit

Meet the Advisory Council

Henry Fuhrmann (1956–2022)

Henry Fuhrmann (1956–2022)

Retired assistant managing editor for copy desks and standards, Los Angeles Times

Henry Fuhrmann 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 was a longtime local leader of the Asian American Journalists Association and served as a member of the executive board of ACES: The Society for Editing.

Steve Bien-Aimé

Steve Bien-Aimé

Assistant professor of journalism at Northern Kentucky University

Steve Bien-Aimé, PhD, is an 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 in Los Angeles, departing as deputy NFL editor. His research interests include race and gender portrayals in news and sports media.

Alice Y. Hom

Alice Y. Hom

Director of Equity and Social Justice, Northern California Grantmakers

Alice Y. Hom, PhD, is a community builder invested in bridging diverse and overlapping communities for social change. As the director of Equity and Social Justice for Northern California Grantmakers, Alice focuses on racial equity with an intersectional lens. Before joining NCG, Alice created a podcast and a digital archive on activism by LGBTQ people of color as a Soros Equality Fellow, and prior to that, she was the director of the Queer Justice Fund at Asian Americans / Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. 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. Alice also serves on the boards of California Humanities and Borealis Philanthropy.

Steve Kleinedler

Steve Kleinedler

Editor, former lexicographer, and author of "Is English Changing?"

Steve Kleinedler, the author of the introductory linguistics textbook Is English Changing?, has worked as an editor since 1989. For 21 years,  Steve was on the editorial staff of the American Heritage Dictionary (including nearly 7 years as executive editor) and served as president of the Dictionary Society of North America from 2017 to 2019. Currently, Steve is a technical editor for a software company in the greater Boston area and was one half of the podcast duo Fiat Lex. Steve received a BA in linguistics from Northwestern University and was a graduate student in linguistics at the University of Chicago (leaving ABD to take a position at the AHD). Steve is a founding member of Shattered Globe Theatre Company in Chicago and has taught, directed, and performed improv at ImprovBoston and Philly Improv Theater for 20 years. Steve lives in suburban Boston with a cat named Solomon.
Christine Ma

Christine Ma

Freelance editor

Christine Ma is a copyeditor and proofreader specializing in children’s and young adult books. Prior to starting her own freelance business, she was an in-house copyeditor or senior production editor at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Weekly Reader, which published educational magazines for children. Among the books Christine copyedited are three Caldecott Medal winners, a National Book Award finalist, a Printz Honor Book, a Sibert Honor Book, a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book, and numerous New York Times bestsellers. She is also on the Executive Board of ACES: The Society for Editing.

White type on sky-blue background.


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