Aging in Style: AMA, APA, and AP Guides Adopt Bias-Free Language
Three of the leading style guides used by thousands of scholars, researchers, communications professionals, journalists, students and others have been updated to incorporate the principles of Reframing aging. The American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), and Associated Press (AP) Stylebook each recently adopted bias-free language advocated by American Geriatrics Society (AGS) leaders.
This represents a significant victory in ensuring that bias-free language regarding aging is adopted by publications ranging from major scholarly journals to national and local newspapers, websites and other media outlets.
The AMA Manual of Style is the writing and editing reference used by the JAMA Network family of journals, which includes the prestigious JAMA, an international peer-reviewed general medical journal published continuously since 1883, JAMA Network specialty journals, and JAMA Network Open. It also is the go-to guide for many other medical, health, and scientific journals, as well as in academia.
The APA Publication Manual is used by more than 1,000 scholarly journals internationally, including by such well-known scientific publishers as Elsevier, Oxford University Press, Taylor & Francis, and Cambridge. It is also used in higher education (in more than 100 academic disciplines), secondary education, and even middle schools. You can see the updated style changes regarding aging and older adults on the APA Style website.
The AP Stylebook is widely considered the definitive reference for journalists and many other writers and editors. In addition to newsrooms, it is also is the writing and editing reference in many classrooms and corporate offices. At a recent ACES: The Society for Editing meeting, the AP Stylebook’s lead editor, Paula Froke, and product manager, Colleen Newvine, presented on the updates in the 2020 edition. View the brief discussion regarding the reasoning behind AP’s update on older adult/person.
As AGS leaders who led the advocacy efforts to convince the three leading organizations to update their style guides wrote in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society last year:
“These critical resources set a baseline standard for how we report research findings, both in peer-reviewed journals and related news coverage. Effecting change here will be key to ensuring that the language we use when we talk about aging research helps policymakers and the public understand the importance of research to improving how we all age.”