Skip to main content

Inclusive writing

People do not want to feel excluded, or to be labelled inferior, either as individuals, or as members of a group. However, it is possible to exclude or imply inferiority without realising it, if insufficient care is taken with your writing. This Study Guide reviews the main ways in which inappropriate assumptions can be made within academic writing, and gives ideas about how to avoid this within your own writing.

There are many words that have been widely used traditionally, but which are based on outdated assumptions. A familiar example is words containing the word man e.g.: chairman, manpower, and man-made, the use of which can be taken to imply that women do not participate in these activities.

We also have a tradition of referring to people with disabilities, by their disability e.g.: calling a person with epilepsy 'an epileptic'; and of using stereotypes with unhelpful presumptions of 'normality' and by implication 'abnormality'. These problems are most commonly found within the fields of: gender; disability; race; and sexual orientation. Language with regard to these characteristics will be examined in turn within this Study Guide.