Pronouns

Q. I have an author who continually uses He/she in the beginning of sentences. I understand that you may make that reference in the beginning, but then must choose one gender to refer to from then on because it is daunting to the reader to continually have to read He/she. I cannot find a specific CMOS reference to justify this change. Can you assist?

A. Actually, CMOS prefers “he or she.” See 5.220: “He or she. To avoid sexist language, many writers use this alternative phrasing (in place of the generic he). Use it sparingly—preferably after exhausting all the less obtrusive methods of achieving gender neutrality. In any event, he or she is much preferable to he/she, s/he, (s)he, and the like.” For more advice, including nine tips for achieving gender neutrality, see 5.221–30, especially 5.225.