Conscious style

We follow the Conscious Style Guide because we are inclusive of all users.

Age

We prefer older person or senior to elderly.

Nationality

Avoid using citizen as a generic term for people who live in the United States. Many government programs serve non-citizens and individuals with a wide range of immigration and visa statuses.

How you refer to the public is largely dependent on context. Feel free to choose from any of these words:

  • People
  • The public
  • Users
  • Folks

Be as specific as possible. Depending on the situation, you may want to say something like “People who need healthcare” or “People who need to access government services online.”

Use citizens for information related to U.S. citizenship, for example, when describing who is eligible to vote in federal elections.

Be careful with Americans or the American public. These terms are ambiguous and are often used as synonyms for citizens. In most cases, the public is equally clear and more inclusive. That said, referring to Americans or the American people can be useful if you want to inspire readers or take a more patriotic tone.

Gender

Make sure text is gender neutral wherever possible. Use they, them, and their. Avoid words and phrases that indicate gender bias, such as lengthy and irrelevant descriptions of appearance.

Don’t use women or older relatives as substitute for novice or beginner. For example, don’t say something is so simple your mother can use it.