The Efficient Editor: How to Write and Edit With Sensitivity

Video transcript

Are you concerned about making sure your text is appropriate?

You should be.

Insensitive language makes text less effective. But how do you make sure you avoid bias—without falling into your own gaps in awareness?

Welcome to today’s episode of The Efficient Editor.

Always ask yourself, is the language being used:

- Relevant?

- Accurate?

- Inclusive?

- Respectful?

- Thoughtful?

First, is it relevant? Is a person’s age, race, ethnicity, religion, ability status, gender identity or presentation, sexual orientation, social standing, or other personal characteristic necessary to the story or content?

If it’s not relevant, don’t include it. If it is relevant, make sure you’re being considerate.

Is it accurate? You need to make sure that, in avoiding being insensitive, you don’t inadvertently misrepresent information. Sometimes a bias-free term might omit important factual details or context.

Is it inclusive? Some terms stereotype, exclude, or imply that one kind of person is “normal” and others are not. You can just replace those terms with ones that avoid those implications.

Is it respectful? For example, titles and pronouns may assume a characteristic that the person doesn’t identify with. If you can, it’s always best to ask someone what language they prefer and then use that language.

Is it thoughtful? No guide will address every situation. So ask yourself, are you being thoughtful about the words being used and their context?

For example, there rarely is just a singular community, so consider “communities” instead of “community” when discussing groups that include subsets and differences.

This is a lot to think about, especially as language and usages are always changing. So it’s good to have support in identifying and remembering the nuanced aspects of sensitive, inclusive language.

You can set PerfectIt to flag insensitive terms and suggest replacements. And you can use PerfectIt to make sure colleagues think about a list of possible alternatives. You can even add notes to explain and educate colleagues on why certain terms may cause offence.

Instead of policing language, it starts a conversation that can help us all learn about experiences and perspectives different from our own. It’s just one of many ways PerfectIt helps you make the most of your professional editorial skills.

If you aren’t already a PerfectIt user, there’s a free trial. Simply add it to Microsoft Word on your PC or Mac!

If you found this video interesting and useful, please share it with your friends. And stay tuned for the next episode of The Efficient Editor!