In an effort to help writers express ideas in language that is both clear and welcoming to all readers, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released new guidance on effective wording in technical standards. The document, Guidance for NIST Staff on Using Inclusive Language in Documentary Standards (NISTIR 8366), was created primarily for the benefit of NIST staff experts who participate in the development of documentary standards as expert collaborators and leaders. However, because NIST authors often work with industry standards development organizations, the technical agency has made the guidance available to the public.
The guidance is based on three sources: NIST Technical Series Publications Author Instructions; the American Psychological Association Style Guide; and the Chicago Manual of Style. The sources provide suggestions on inclusive language, including examples of words or expressions to avoid. As guidance, this provides standards participants with a tool to assist in how to apply these suggestions to their work.
“Our main goal is to help people think more clearly about what they are trying to communicate,” said NIST’s Kathryn Miller, one of the publication’s authors. “Our readers and collaborators can have diverse backgrounds. We want to consider their needs by helping writers and speakers think critically.”
Information on inclusive language policies and guidance by various standards developing organizations is included.