What are Content Warnings?

A content warning is a statement of potentially sensitive content found in a piece of media. These warnings can assist someone in making an informed decision about the content they may be about to consume. Warnings can help provide a safe space or allow for a consumer to choose when to pick up certain content.

You are likely familiar with the ratings found on movies or video games, but some authors are beginning to add content warnings at the beginning of their books. At this time, it is more common to see this with independent or self-published works directly included in a work.

Many people argue that content warnings are spoilers. Warnings don’t inform context and can easily be bypassed by those who don’t wish to see them. It is more important for the consumer to make an informed choice than to worry about spoilers. 

Some interchangeably use the terms content warning and trigger warning. The term "trigger warning" has a direct correlation with PTSD so many will use "content warning."

Some resources for searching content warnings:

The StoryGraph

Does The Dog Die

Common Sense Media

Unconsenting Media

*Please note many of these resources include user added warnings and are not necessarily all encompassing.

Examples of sensitive content:

  • Sexual assault
  • Abuse
  • Child abuse/pedophilia/incest
  • Animal cruelty or animal death
  • Self-harm and suicide
  • Eating disorders, body hatred, and fatphobia
  • Violence
  • Sexual content
  • Death or dying
  • Pregnancy/childbirth
  • Miscarriages/abortion
  • Blood
  • Mental illness and ableism
  • Racism and racial slurs
  • Sexism and misogyny
  • Classism
  • Hateful language direct at religious groups (e.g., Islamophobia, anti-Semitism)
  • Transphobia and trans misogyny
  • Homophobia and heterosexism
  • Murder

You may also see the addition of:

  • Mentioned
  • Suggested
  • On page/Off page
  • Attempted