Oregon Humanities Style Guide

Some words we use and why we use them

This style guide is a reference for common words and terms used in Oregon Humanities' publications and communications. Some of these uses may be different than those found in our preferred dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and style manual, The Chicago Manual of Style. This guide overrules those publications.


The Oregon Humanities logo is set in Univers 45 Light. Our red brand color is Pantone 485C.


Oregon Humanities uses serial commas.

Consider This

Consider This is a series of onstage conversations with writers, civic leaders, activists, and artists in bars, cafes, pubs, and theaters in Portland and around Oregon. It started in 2009 and was known as Think & Drink until 2020.

The Conversation Project

The Conversation Project brings people together to talk about their beliefs and experiences around timely and important issues and ideas. An event presented as part of the Conversation Project is a Conversation Project event or discussion. A person who facilitates such an event is a Conversation Project facilitator or leader. An organization that partners with Oregon Humanities to present an event is a Conversation Project host.


Oregon Humanities draws the following recommendations from the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s Disability Language Style Guide. For specific guidance on terminology related to disability, please consult that guide.

Disabled people/people with disabilities: The phrase “disabled people” is an example of identity-first language (in contrast to people-first language). It is the preferred terminology in Great Britain and by a number of US disability activists. Syracuse University’s Disability Cultural Center says, “The basic reason behind members of (some disability) groups’ dislike for the application of people-first language to themselves is that they consider their disabilities to be inseparable parts of who they are.” For example, they prefer to be referred to as “autistic,” “blind” or “disabled.”

Several US disability groups have always used identity-first terms, specifically the culturally Deaf community and the autistic rights community.

Oregon Humanities’ use will depend on the preference of writers and organizational partners, and may be inconsistent. Whenever possible, identify people as they identify themselves. If you are describing a group of people, or when individual preferences cannot be determined, use person-first language, for example “people with disabilities,” “people with chronic illnesses,” or “people with mental health conditions.”


Gender is a social identity that is not synonymous with physiological sex. Oregon Humanities policy is to always refer to people by their preferred gender and pronouns. We use they/them as a singular gender-neutral pronoun.

For thorough information on terms related to gender and sex, see The Diversity Style Guide, the GLAAD Media Reference Guide, and the Trans Journalists Association Style Guide.


Hispanic is an ethnic identity used by some descendants of Spanish settlers in the Americas. It is particularly common in the Southwestern US. It should not be used interchangeably with Latino or Latinx or to mean "Spanish-speaking," and should only be used to describe people when they use it themselves. See also Latino, Latina, Latinx, Latine.

Humanity in Perspective

Oregon Humanities' free, for-credit, college-level humanities courses. This is the only program that may be abbreviated in public contexts, as HIP.


Do not hyphenate ethnic and national groups when used as a compound adjective (e.g. “African American neighborhood”). "Low income" is unhyphenated unless used as a compound adjective. "Working class" is permissable when used in narrative as the author's choice.


We prefer incarcerated person over prisoner, though both are allowable. Do not use inmate, felon, or convict, which all have their own and often derogatory meanings. For more on this subject, see "Inmate. Prisoner. Other. Discussed." and "Shifting how journalists talk about people in prison"

Latino, Latina, Latinx, Latine

Use Latino (masculine), Latina (feminine), or Latinx or Latine (gender-neutral) for a person from—or whose ancestors were from—Latin America. Which term is appropriate may vary depending on the audience. Do not use “Chicano/a/x” unless it’s preferred by a writer or organization describing themselves or their community. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as CubanPuerto RicanBrazilian, or Mexican American. Oregon Humanities’ use will depend on the preference of writers and organizational partners, and may be inconsistent. See also Hispanic, Races and ethnicities.

Native American

Native American or Native are acceptable terms to describe people in the United States, as is IndigenousIndian may be used only when that is a person or group's preference to describe themselves or in some cases where required by tradition, e.g. Federal-Indian relationsFirst Nations is the preferred term in Canada. Whenever possible, identify people as they identify themselves, such as by tribe or band. Do not describe a person born in Oregon as a "native Oregonian."

For more questions relating to Native people, see Native American Journalists Association guides. See also Races and ethnicities.

Non-English words

While the Chicago Manual of Style calls for setting words from languages other than English in italics on first mention, Oregon Humanities prefers to set all words in roman. Setting "foreign" words in italics can be othering, especially when those words have no English equivalent.

Full phrases or sentances in languages other than English may be set in Italics if the majority of a text is English. The following examples are from Oregon Humanities magazine:

  • When a baby is born, Lakota mothers make two cekpas. A cekpa (“check-pah”) is a leather bag made into a sort of amulet that holds a baby’s umbilical cord, signifying the child’s connection to the mother and the land they came from. (Leah Altman, "Cekpa")
  • I’ve written to honor myself, but more important, to honor you, the collective. I speak to Na’ me’ pupt’ (our brother) co’ (and) Na’ mip’ tsh (father of our brother). (Sal Sahme, "Lies of Discovery")

An exception to this rule is when writing about the word as a word, e.g., "That depends what the meaning of the word is is.” (Bill Clinton, 1998)


Spell out all numbers between one and one hundred as well as whole thousands, millions, and billions. Do not spell out percentages: 10 percent, not ten percent or 10%.

Years and decades should be written in numerals: 1872, 2010s, 1980s and '90s. 

Ages should be spelled out: thirties, fifties, nineties.

Oregon Humanities

Oregon Humanities is the full name of this organization. When italicized, Oregon Humanities refers to the magazine of the same name. Avoid abbreviating either name. If abbreviation is necessary, OH is preferred over OR Humanities or Oregon Humanities. Never refer to the organization as O. Hm.

Oregon Humanities' brand typeface is Univers 45 Light, font size 10 over 13 leading.

Place names

When writing names of places in Oregon, there is usually no need to add the name of the state. Oregon Humanities' programs and contributors may be assumed to reside in Oregon. Cities that share a name with a much larger US city, such as Detroit, Lexington, St. Paul, Arlington, Oakland, Dayton, Toledo, Phoenix, Dallas, Redmond, and Springfield, may require the state be appended for clarity.

Spell out numbered street names up to ten (e.g. "Tenth St." and "11th St.")

Names of states should be spelled out or abbreviated using US Postal service abbreviations: OR, not Ore.

Professional Titles

Oregon Humanities prefers not to use academic honorifics such as Dr. and Rev., preferring a degree after a name, e.g. Adam Davis, PhD. In general use, we prefer not to name academic credentials at all. Lowercase job titles unless they precede a name.

Races and ethnicities

Identity is complicated, and there is often no one correct way to refer to people as members of a racial or ethnic group. Oregon Humanities policy is to always describe people as they describe themselves, and to be as specific as possible in doing so. In general, we capitalize Black, African American, White, Native AmericanAsian, and Indigenous when referring to people's racial identities. When an author or organization has a strong preference otherwise when referring to a group of they are part of, we follow that preference.

Black: African Americans, as descendants of slaves, cannot define themselves more accurately than an entire continent because their ancestry was obliterated by the practices of enslavers, which included breaking apart tribal and family bonds, and thus Black has become an identity beyond just a color descriptor.

Brown: Avoid using Brown as a racial category unless a writer uses it to describe themselves.

White: Until 2020, OH opted not to capitalize “White,” because doing so is a practice of White supremacist groups and because White people in the US often have an ethnic identity beyond Whiteness (e.g. “Irish American”). We changed this policy after several leading journalism organizations, including the National Association of Black Journalists, the American Psychological Association, and the Washington Post, did the same.

The main reason for doing so is that keeping a lower-case “white” while capitalizing other racial categories perpetuates the normalization of Whiteness as the default and allows White readers to think of themselves as not having race or existing apart from the US racial hierarchy. 

Kwame Anthony Appiah wrote in a 2020 article in the Atlantic, “ It’s true that white people have the luxury of not thinking of themselves as white when they’re in all-white settings; the less that’s the norm, the less they can think of race as something that only other people have—the way talk of  ‘ethnic’ food suggests that ethnicity is a property only ‘ethnics’ have.” He continues, “When we ignore the dialectical relation between the labels “black” and “white,” we treat a bloodstained product of history as a neutral, objective fact about the world. We naturalize the workings of racism.”

The readers of Oregon Humanities magazine identify, by a large majority, as White. Our readers are also, on average, highly educated. Many work in public service. We are well-positioned to help our White readers think of themselves not as normal or neutral but as members of a racial group created and perpetuated through violence. Our hope is that readers who see themselves as the beneficiaries of our racist systems will be motivated to reject and dismantle those systems.

For more information on terms related to race an ethnicity, see the Asian American Journalists Association guidance section, the National Association of Black Journalists style guide, and the Race Forward Race Reporting Guide

See also HispanicLatino, Latina, Latinx, Latine; and Native American.

Sexual orientation and identity

LGBTQ+ is to be used in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. Avoid referring to "the LGBTQ+ community," as these identities are held by people belonging to many communities. LGBTQ+ people is more accurate.

Queer is generally acceptable as a synonym for LGBTQ+, but it should be used with caution as some people still consider it a slur.

Whenever possible, refer to people as they refer to themselves. Do not call someone “an LGBTQ+ person” but rather, for example, “a lesbian” or “a transgender woman.”

United States

The country is abbreviated "US", not "U.S." Avoid "America" and "North America" when referring to the United States, as these encompass other countries.

Further Resources

The following are resources and style guides we used to create this guide and refer to when questions come up that aren't addressed here.