The Associated Press Stylebook carefully and intentionally crafts guidance for the communication of gender-neutral terms. It is imperative that our brand communicators familiarize themselves with the most up-to-date recommendations. Below are general AP recommendations. You can find the AP's full guidance under "gender-neutral language" in the AP Stylebook.
In general, use terms that can apply to any gender. Such language aims to treat people equally and is inclusive of people whose gender identity is not strictly male or female. When communicating, do not assume to know a person's gender identity.
Balance these aims with respect for the language and an understanding that gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language is evolving and in some cases is challenging to achieve.
A true gender-neutral noun often presents itself easily:
- chair or chairperson
Consider any word or term that has the effect of emphasizing one gender over another. Is there another word that could be substituted?
- Crew, staff, workforce, workers, not manpower
- Door attendant, not doorman
Avoid tortured or unfamiliar constructions such as snowperson for snowman, baseperson for baseman, or freshperson for freshman. Similarly, don't use "siblinghood" in place of brotherhood or sisterhood.
Below are examples of preferred usage. This list is not all-inclusive; it can serve as a framework by which to consider other words. Choose what is appropriate and accurate in the context. Default to gender-neutral terms if you are unsure of an individual's gender.
In general, use this term for any gender. Use actress for a woman only in stories about the Oscars, Emmys, or Tonys, all of which use the word actress in their awards.
The accepted term for nonbinary persons who graduated from Miami University. When using alum as a term to represent those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community, ensure that you also use their appropriate pronouns.
- After raising a record amount of money for their foundation, Miami alum Jane Smith donated the proceeds to Miami organizations that cater to LGBTQ+ students.
Use blond as an adjective in all applications when relevant:
- She has blond hair.
Avoid using either blond or blonde as a noun:
- "He has blond hair," not "he is a blond."
If necessary to use as a noun in a direct quote, use blond for any gender.
Use brown as an adjective in all applications when relevant:
- She has brown hair.
Avoid using brunette as a noun unless in a direct quote:
- "She has brown hair," not "she is a brunette."
business owner, businessperson
Not busboy or busgirl.
crew, staff, workforce, workers
dancer, ballet dancer
Ballerina is acceptable because of its broad use by dancers. When possible, follow the person's preference.
humanity, humankind, humans, human beings, people
human-made, human-caused, artificial, synthetic
mail carrier or letter carrier
Not policeman/policewoman or patrolman.
The terms U.S. representative, representative, member of Congress are preferred. Congressman and congresswoman are acceptable because of their common use. Do not use congressperson.
"First-term" lawmakers is preferred over "freshman" lawmakers.
"Council member" is preferred. Some jurisdictions have already adopted "councilmember" as one word.
salesperson, sales associate, sales clerk, sales executive
singer, songwriter, singer/songwriter