Bias-free communication - Microsoft Style Guide

Microsoft technology reaches every part of the globe, so it's critical that all our communications are inclusive and diverse.

Use gender-neutral alternatives for common terms.

Use this Not this
chair, moderator chairman
humanity, people, humankind man, mankind
operates, staffs mans
sales representative salesman
synthetic, manufactured manmade
workforce, staff, personnel manpower

Don't use he, him, his, she, her, or hers in generic references. Instead:

  • Rewrite to use the second person (you).
  • Rewrite the sentence to have a plural noun and pronoun.
  • Use the or a instead of a pronoun (for example, "the document").
  • Refer to a person's role (reader, employee, customer, or client, for example).
  • Use person or individual.

If you can't write around the problem, it's OK to use a plural pronoun (they, their, or them) in generic references to a single person. Don't use constructions like he/she and s/he.

Use this Not this
If you have the appropriate rights, you can set other users' passwords.
A user with the appropriate rights can set other users' passwords.
If the user has the appropriate rights, he can set other users' passwords.
Developers need access to servers in their development environments, but they don't need access to the servers in Azure. A developer needs access to servers in his development environment, but he doesn't need access to the servers in Azure.
When the author opens the document …. When the author opens her document ….
To call someone, select the person's name, select Make a phone call, and then choose the number you'd like to dial. To call someone, select his name, select Make a phone call, and then select his number.
If you want to call someone who isn't in your Contacts list, you can dial their phone number using the dial pad. If you want to call someone who isn't in your Contacts list, you can dial his or her phone number using the dial pad.

When you're writing about a real person, use the pronouns that person prefers, whether it's he, she, they, or another pronoun. It's OK to use gendered pronouns (like he, she, his, and hers) when you're writing about real people who use those pronouns themselves.

It's also OK to use gendered pronouns in content such as direct quotations and the titles of works and when gender is relevant, such as discussions about the challenges that women face in the workplace.
Examples The skills that Claire developed in the Marines helped her move into a thriving technology career. Anthony Lambert is executive vice president of gaming. With his team and game development partners, Lambert continues to push the boundaries of creativity and technical innovation. The chief operating officer of Munson's Pickles and Preserves Farm says, "My great uncle Isaac, who employed his brothers, sisters, mom, and dad, knew that they—and his customers—were depending on him."

Do you have a daughter? Here are a few things you can do to inspire and support her interest in STEM subjects.

In fictitious scenarios, strive for diversity and avoid stereotypes in job roles. Choose names that reflect a variety of gender identities and cultural backgrounds.

In text and images, represent diverse perspectives and circumstances. Depict a variety of people from all walks of life participating fully in activities. Be inclusive of gender identity, race, culture, ability, age, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class. Show people in a wide variety of professions, educational settings, locales, and economic settings. Avoid using examples that reflect primarily a Western or affluent lifestyle. In drawings or blueprints of buildings, show ramps for wheelchair accessibility.

Be inclusive of job roles, family structure, and leisure activities. If you show various family groupings, consider showing nontraditional and extended families.

Be mindful when you refer to various parts of the world. If you name cities, countries, or regions in examples, make sure they're not politically disputed. In examples that refer to several regions, use equivalent references—for example, don't mix countries with states or continents.

Don't make generalizations about people, countries, regions, and cultures, not even positive or neutral generalizations.

Don't use slang, especially if it could be considered cultural appropriation, such as spirit animal.

Don't use profane or derogatory terms, such as pimp or bitch.

Avoid culturally sensitive terms, such as the terms associated with military or political actions or other historic events and eras.

Use this Not this
master/subordinate master/slave
perimeter network demilitarized zone (DMZ)
stop responding hang

Focus on people, not disabilities. For example, talk about readers who are blind or have low vision and customers with limited dexterity. Don't use words that imply pity, such as stricken with or suffering from. Don't mention a disability unless it's relevant. For more information, see the Accessibility term collection.

Learn more For more information about writing that conveys respect to all people and promotes equal opportunities, see the Guidelines for Inclusive Language from the Linguistic Society of America.

See also Accessibility guidelines and requirements, Global communications