10 interesting facts about the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing

Posted on November 14, 2023

Questions about how to deal with gender may arise in different writing situations, such as when you’re drafting a letter to a group of individuals of diverse genders, compiling the results of a survey conducted with a specific population, or writing the biography of a non-binary person. These are just some of the writing situations that can be addressed using the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing (opens in new tab), published on the Language Portal of Canada. The Guidelines include inclusive writing principles and techniques, as well as a number of resources.

Here's an overview of 10 interesting facts about the Guidelines.


1) The Guidelines for Inclusive Writing are the result of the collaborative efforts of a working group.

The Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing is made up of more than 35 federal, provincial and territorial organizations, and is co-chaired by Women and Gender Equality Canada, Canadian Heritage and Public Services and Procurement Canada (represented by the Translation Bureau’s Language Portal of Canada). Both the English and French versions of the Guidelines have been available online on the Language Portal of Canada website since fall 2022.

2) Before the Guidelines were published, different groups within the federal public service were asked to comment on the contents.

These groups included:

  • language and communications specialists;
  • departments and agencies; and
  • equity, diversity and inclusion networks.

Principles and techniques

3) The Guidelines include a variety of techniques for writing inclusively in English and French.

These techniques are not revolutionary. They’re already out there and include methods such as rewriting a sentence, using the singular “they,” and tailoring a message to a target audience. The techniques are considered possible solutions, rather than absolute rules.

4) Each technique has advantages and disadvantages.

No solution is perfect, and no solution will work in every situation. One of the principles in the Guidelines is to apply the technique or techniques that work best, taking into account the nature of the text and the target audience.

5) One of the five main principles in the Guidelines is to write clearly and effectively.

The goal of inclusive writing is, of course, to be inclusive, so the message has to be accessible to everyone in the target audience. The Guidelines make it clear that accessibility must be taken into consideration and that a piece of writing should not be needlessly complex or dense. Inclusive writing techniques need to be carefully selected to ensure that the message is understood and that clarity is maintained.

6) The Guidelines include new techniques for addressing or referring to non-binary people.

These techniques include using the singular “they,” neopronouns, such as “ze” or “hir,” and gender-inclusive courtesy titles, such as “Mx.” But before you use any of these techniques, it’s important to ask the individual what their preference is and follow their lead, as recommended in the Guidelines.

7) There’s also a quick reference sheet available for use online or in printable PDF format.

The quick reference sheet (opens in new tab) summarizes the main principles of inclusive writing, provides examples of practical techniques and contains a list of resources to help you write inclusively. You can use the reference sheet online or download it to your computer for use offline.


8) The Inclusionary is one of many online resources that accompany the Guidelines.

The Inclusionary (opens in new tab) is a very useful collection of inclusive solutions to gendered words. You can search in the index or by keyword. Here’s an example from the Inclusionary:

Examples and solutions
Gendered sentence Inclusive solutions
A businesswoman or businessman needs strong leadership skills.
  • A business person needs strong leadership skills.
  • A business executive needs strong leadership skills.
  • A business leader needs strong leadership skills.
  • An entrepreneur needs strong leadership skills.
Businessmen will have to pay closer attention to supply chain issues.
  • Business people will have to pay closer attention to supply chain issues.
  • Business leaders will have to pay closer attention to supply chain issues.
  • Entrepreneurs will have to pay closer attention to supply chain issues.
  • The business community will have to pay closer attention to supply chain issues.
  • The business world will have to pay closer attention to supply chain issues.

9) In addition to the Guidelines, several resources on respectful and inclusive vocabulary can be used.


10) The Guidelines will continue to be updated.

Both language and the realities that language describes are constantly evolving. Only time will tell which terms or techniques will be adopted into common usage.

Adapted by Amanda Kenney, Language Portal of Canada


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Ève Lyne Marchand

Ève Lyne Marchand

Ève Lyne Marchand has been an English-to-French translator for the Government of Canada since 2009. She specializes in employment, training and project management. In addition to translation, she studied creative writing and music—her gateways to a parallel life where she writes works of poetry, fantasy and science fiction.


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Submitted by Yasmin Martinez on November 15, 2023, at 0:54

I found this tool very useful, thanks!

Submitted by Sepideh Ahmadkhan Beigi on November 15, 2023, at 22:01

Insightful post! The collaborative effort behind the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing and the emphasis on clarity and adaptability are commendable. The provided techniques and resources, such as 'The Inclusionary,' make it a valuable tool for fostering inclusive language. Kudos to the ongoing commitment to evolve with language and societal changes!

Submitted by EL Marchand on December 27, 2023, at 8:25

Absolutely! Thank you for your comment.