Scientific Style and Format Update: Capitalize Racial and Ethnic Group Designations

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As editors and publishers, most of us understand that preparing and publishing an updated edition of a book is a multi-year undertaking. In the case of style manuals and other reference titles, 7 to 10 years is a typical interval between editions. Even in the most mundane times, an awful lot can change in the better part of a decade. And as we know all too well, the current climate can hardly be described as mundane.

To date, CSE’s practice with respect to Scientific Style and Format has been not to introduce changes to its rules and recommendations between editions. When the 8th edition was published in 2014, however, an online edition was introduced. The Introduction to the 8th edition noted that “The Scientific Style and Format 8th Edition Subcommittee worked to ensure the continued integrity of the CSE style and to provide a progressively up-to-date resource for our valued users, which will be adjusted as needed on the website.”

And so we find ourselves 6 years later, with a call to be—and, fortunately, a platform that allows us to be—”progressively up-to-date.”

In light of recent events and in keeping with announcements and changes made in a number of other style manuals, including the Chicago Manual of Style, the AMA Manual of Style, APA Style, and the AP Stylebook, an Editor’s Note will be incorporated into the online version of Scientific Style and Format 8th Edition (SSF8) advising that editors should capitalize designations based on color or local usage, including “Black,” “White,” “Indigenous,” and “Highlander.”

The updated guidance described above will be more fully incorporated upon publication of the 9th edition, expected in 2022. As part of the SSF9 Task Force’s work, we expect that the Manual’s more general guidance on bias-free language will be refined as well, in alignment with CSE’s commitment to fostering an open and welcoming global community. CSE and the SSF9 Task Force welcome and appreciate feedback from our members and the editing community at large as we continue to improve our resources in the spirit of equality and inclusion.

October 20,2020
Council of Science Editors
Board of Directors, 2020-2021