Addressing persons

It has been long shown that language inevitably attracts our attention towards world characteristics that may be, in context, irrelevant. As such, we do advise that when addressing persons, gendered terms should – as much as possible and when not relevant – be avoided, even when it is known.


To: Dear Ms Mueller

Prefer: Dear Anne Mueller


In these cases, of course, one could argue that the first name is gendered, and one could find other ways to address this person, when applicable (e.g., Dear Dr Mueller). If you need, or want, to avoid first names, and no non-gendered alternatives are possible, Ms should be used for women, and Mr for men. Options specifying marital status (Miss or Mrs) should be avoided.


When addressing unknown persons, prefer formulations such as Dear Colleague, Dear Professor, Dear Editor, etc. In line with the first issue presented in this guide, please avoid all uses of the term man as a generic. So, for example, a chairman becomes a chairperson. Other examples are given below.


Similarly, avoid all explicit mention of gender when using role nouns, such as male nurse, female athlete or housewife.

To Prefer
Businessman/men Business person/people / People in business / Entrepreneur Manager
Chairman Chairperson / Chair Moderator / Presiding officer
Guys People
Female/Male nurse Nurse
Manmade Handmade or artificial (depending on context)
Research fellow Research Associate
Spokesman Representative / Spokesperson / Advocate
Sportsmanship Fair play / Fairness
Steward/stewardess Flight attendant
Workmen Workers
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