The Conscious Style Guide: A Flexible Approach to Language That Includes, Respects, and Empowers

Book cover with the title "The Conscious Style Guide: A Flexible Approach to Language That Includes, Respects, and Empowers" on a navy background.

Publisher: Little, Brown Spark
Release date: May 28, 2024
ISBN-10: ‎0316478547
ISBN-13: 978-0316478540

A timeless, indispensable guide for anyone who wants to communicate with sensitivity and compassion.

Most of us want to choose inclusive, respectful, and empowering language. But language—and how we use it—continually evolves, along with cultural norms. When contradictory opinions muddle our purpose, how do we align our word choices with our beliefs? Who has the final say when people disagree? And why is it so hard to let go of certain words? Afraid of getting something wrong or offending, we too often treat words as dos or don’ts, regardless of context and nuance.

Thankfully, in The Conscious Style Guide, award-winning editor Karen Yin provides a road map for writing and speaking with equity in mind—no matter how the world around us changes. Readers will learn:

  • How to identify biased language
  • How to use inclusive language to bring attention to specific groups of people
  • How to adopt conscious language as a tool for self-awareness and critical thinking
  • How to make digital materials more accessible, from event flyers to websites
  • How to alleviate the stress of experiencing exclusionary language
  • How to collaborate with others and work across differences
  • How to create a style sheet to help support your practice
  • And much more

With practical advice and hundreds of relatable examples, The Conscious Style Guide invites us to challenge binary thinking, embrace flexibility and creativity, and explore truly effective communication—in all aspects of our lives.

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Praise for The Conscious Style Guide

“Karen Yin is no language cop, ready to arrest us for our word crimes. Instead, in The Conscious Style Guide, she is the beloved school crossing guard, protecting us, guiding us, reminding us to look both ways.”

Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools


“Karen Yin has crafted a generous, thoughtful toolkit for anyone seeking to communicate mindfully. Her insights offer a flexible pathway to practicing conscious language that avoids prescriptivism and instead invites deep reflection. A must-have reference for any bookshelf!”

Emily Ladau, disability rights activist and author of Demystifying Disability


“With its emphasis on critical thinking and the fluid interplay between content and context, The Conscious Style Guide will inspire writers and their editors to make choices that not only respect readers but, in the process, bring us all a little closer to the truth.”

Russell Harper, principal reviser of The Chicago Manual of Style


The Conscious Style Guide is the best tool book of all. In a time when clear, accurate communication is more essential—and more challenging—than ever, Karen Yin gives writers and editors a great gift: a flexible and detailed guide for thinking through the nuances of language and context and making wise decisions in each situation. With compassion and clarity, she points us toward training our minds rather than falling back on often problematic lists of dos and don’ts. This book is a tremendous resource, affirming and instructive at the same time. I absolutely love it.”

Paula Froke, editor of The Associated Press Stylebook


“In a world where perception consistently trumps reality, fighting—let alone undoing—systemic inequity often feels laughable. What can one person do, anyway? Enter the brilliant Karen Yin. By asking one simple, yet incredibly revealing question: Why do I believe this? Yin, with insight, empathy, and unflinching honesty, deftly guides the reader through finding, and unleashing, the most potent power we have: our conscious choice of words.”

—Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius and Story or Die 


“An essential resource for writers and editors who want to get up to speed on writing with empathy and care.”

Mignon Fogarty, host of the Grammar Girl podcast


The Conscious Style Guide is far more than style guide. It’s a holistic and generous resource for anyone interested in the real guts of language: tender, messy, hurtful, complex human interaction. It navigates the sometimes maddening flexibility of English by grounding the reader in an awareness of self, society, and others based on kindness and curiosity. The Conscious Style Guide captures the nuance inherent in a living language while providing both micro- and macro-level advice on best practices for writers, editors, and readers. No list of dos and don’ts can replace the thoughtful guidance offered by Yin. The Conscious Style Guide is a must-have reference for anyone who wants to communicate well, compassionately, and clearly.”

Kory Stamper, author of Word by Word

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