Editorial Style Guide

The intent of this Editorial Style Guide is to serve as an effective resource for communicators across the Brown campus to establish consistency in editorial style for websites, print publications, social media and more. Learn more about the Editorial Style Guide or download a PDF of the style guide.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z | Clear

gender-inclusive language

Do not use “he” when referring to an unspecified single person. Instead, rewrite the sentence, using the plural form or avoid the use of pronouns entirely.

  • Instead of:  Each student completed his survey.
  • Try: All students completed the survey.
  • Instead of: If a writer plans ahead, he will save a lot of effort.
  • Try: The writer who plans ahead will save a lot of effort.

Avoid gender-specific language whenever possible.

  • chair rather than chairman/chairwoman/chairperson
  • police officer rather than policeman
  • parenting rather than mothering
  • supervisor instead of foreman
  • humankind instead of mankind

Use the updated guidance from AP style in stories about people who identify as neither male nor female and who ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her. Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If the use of they/them/their is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.

When “they” is used as a singular, it takes a plural verb. Be sure it’s clear from the context that only one person is involved.

  • Taylor said they need a new car.


But: “greyhound”