Inclusive and Bias-Free Language in APA (APA 7th Edition Update)

The American Psychological Association highlights the need to talk about all people with inclusivity and respect. Writers adopting APA 7th edition must strive to use bias-free language and avoid perpetuating prejudicial beliefs or demeaning attitudes in their writing.

21.12.2020

Inclusive and Bias-Free Language in APA (APA 7th Edition Update)

APA Style

APA is the official style of documentation of academic sources used by the American Psychological Association (APA). It is considered one of the most commonly used styles in the academic field. It is especially used for citing sources within the field of social and behavioral sciences.

7th Edition of the APA Manual

The American Psychological Association (APA) introduced the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual in 2019. This edition replaced the previous one, the 6th edition of the manual. Since then, several things have changed. As emphasized on the official APA website, The American Psychological Association highlights the need to talk about all people with inclusivity and respect. Writers adopting APA 7th edition must strive to use bias-free language and avoid perpetuating prejudicial beliefs or demeaning attitudes in their writing.

APA Manual 7th Edition bias-free language

Inclusive and Bias-Free Language

The APA guidelines for bias-free language contain both general guidelines for writing about people without bias across a range of topics and specific guidelines that address the individual characteristics of age, disability, gender, participation in research, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality. These guidelines and recommendations were crafted by panels of experts on APA’s bias-free language committees(apa.org). Thus, the new edition of the APA Manual encourages authors to use bias-free language and help them reduce bias around topics such as gender, age, disability, racial and ethnic identity, and sexual orientation.  

  • The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual encourages authors to use bias-free language and help them reduce bias around topics such as gender, age, disability, racial and ethnic identity, and sexual orientation.  

  • The new edition encourages authors to use they/their instead of he/she or his/her. Thus, avoid using “he or she” to refer to people of unspecified gender.

  • Use words to define characteristics relevant and distinguishing among people. 

  • Be specific about age ranges, types of conditions, gender identity, origins and affiliations of people, sexual orientation, and their socio-economic background or status.

Here are some examples:

  • The singular “they” or “their” is endorsed as a gender-neutral pronoun.

APA 6th Edition

The results will depend on how he or she analyzed the data at hand.

APA 7th Edition

The results will depend on how they analyzed the data at hand.

  • Use descriptive phrases instead of using adjectives as nouns to label groups of people.

    • Transsexuals (Incorrect)

    • Transgender people (Correct)

  • Instead of using broad categories, give specific ages ranges

    • People 50 and over (Incorrect)

    • People in the age range of 50 and 60 (Correct)

APA Manual 7th Edition bias-free language

For more information about the citation styles and APA style, read the following articles: 

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APA Manual 7th Edition bias-free language

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This short guide discusses the bias-free language approach adopted by the 7th edition of the APA Manual Publication. To give you an opportunity to practice your proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.

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