How to Write Copy With Inclusive Language

How to Write Copy With Inclusive Language

By Scarlett Payne   |    January 27, 2021


Inclusivity Matters


of the US population has a disability.



 suffers from mental illness.



of the US population  is LGBT.


This is but a taste of the United States' diversity and a hint of the need for inclusive copy. Inclusivity encompasses race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender, sex, sexual orientation, disability, mental health, education level and more.

Why You Should Write for Inclusivity

• Contribute to equality and diversity • Prevent microaggressions • Broaden your reach by making more people feel welcome • Improve usability so all people can use your product • Improve your brand reputation

Be Inclusive of Culture, Race, Ethnicity and Nationality

• Monitor use of regional phrases and words • Avoid cultural references that limit age or geography • Use the respective person’s preferred choice when referring to races, ethnicities and nationalities

Be Inclusive of Gender, Sex and Sexuality

• Don’t assume that readers are female or male, heterosexual, cisgender, etc. • Stick to gender-neutral pronouns like "they" • Use gender-neutral job titles • Don’t substitute traits with gender (e.g., manly for strength)

Be Inclusive of Disabilities

• Use accessible design • Add descriptions for links for screen reader use • Include detailed alt text • Follow the rule “people first, descriptors second" • Avoid ableist language (e.g., dumb or lame) • For CTAs, focus on what the user accomplishes instead of how they interact (e.g., users who are blind can’t “see more”)

Be Inclusive of Mental Health Challenges

• Don’t refer to mental health challenges as metaphors (e.g., anxious for stressed or  depressed for upset) • Don’t use mental health challenges as synonyms (e.g., bipolar for rapidly changing) • Again, follow the rule "people first, descriptors second"

Be Inclusive of Education and Non-Native Speakers

• Use shorter sentences and cut unnecessary words • Use simple words and write at an 8th-grade reading level or below • Avoid industry jargon • Include a glossary if you use lots of unknown words • Use step-by-step instructions, keep steps simple and use visual guidance as a backup

Other Inclusive Writing Tips

• Educate yourself on industry-specific inclusivity issues • Don’t use terms that can be used to discriminate or offend (e.g., crazy or dumb) • Avoid demeaning euphemisms (e.g., differently-abled, victim or afflicted) • Never rely on stereotypes • Avoid offensive humor

Other Inclusive Writing Tips

• Focus on interests over demographics • Make sure images represent diversity • Incorporate testimonials from diverse populations • Choose topics that are inclusive and welcoming of all • Consider different needs and goals by making content skimmable with hierarchies, headers and bullet points

More Than the Written Word

Enforcing true diversity and equality requires a deeper look at your business practices. It’s about the final message you send when everything adds up, and it includes hiring for diversity, treating staff equally and making inclusivity a part of your company culture.