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MLA 9th Edition Style Guide: Inclusive Language

This guide will assist you in formatting in-text citations and a Works Cited list in the current MLA style.

Inclusive Language

MLA Handbook has added a new chapter on the use of inclusive language in research paper regarding race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. ability, age, economic status and social status. Below you will find a summary of the seven (7) guidelines. As you are writing, consider the context and audience when choosing inclusive language.





terms meaningful to the context (ethnicity, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, economic or social status)

avoid language describing an individual or group identity that could make some feel excluded or disrespected




recognize your audience that may include differences in race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, economic or social status

use subject’s preferred terms to avoid stereotypes and generalizations







be respectful of identity

choose preference of the individual: people-first language (person with autism) or identity-first language (autistic person)




choose and be consistent with the capitalized and lowercased form of words (black and Black; deaf and Deaf)




when sex and gender are not relevant, recast subject as plural (taxpayer must file their tax return)



  avoid negative language about disability or health condition (person who uses a wheelchair not person confined to a wheelchair)



if uncertain, get guidance on offensive words, terms considered offensive or questionable by referring to an up-to-date dictionary (eg. OED)