About Conscious Style Guide
Conscious Style Guide’s mission is to help writers and editors think critically about how language—including words, portrayals, framing, and representation—can empower historically marginalized and misrepresented communities.
One of Poynter’s top tools for journalists in 2018, Conscious Style Guide has also been featured by publications such as Zapier, Lucky Peach, Copyediting, and ACES’s Tracking Changes and cited by BuzzFeed, 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 AP vs. Chicago and the Editors of Color Database, 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.
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
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 FOXSports.com in Los Angeles, departing as deputy NFL editor. His research interests include race and gender portrayals in news and sports media.
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
Consultant, Hom Consulting
Alice Y. Hom, PhD, is the host and founder of the Historically Queer podcast. As a Soros Equality Fellow, she created Historically Queer to make historical and contemporary stories of activism by LGBTQ people of color accessible and is working on a digital archive of materials and documents by and about LGBTQ people of color. She serves on the boards of California Humanities and Borealis Philanthropy and is a commissioner on the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women. 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.
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.