How to find what you need in the Style Manual.
Introducing the Style Manual
Watch this short video for a demonstration of how to use the Style Manual. Access the transcript here.
Style Manual basics
Use the Style Manual to learn how to apply government style to all kinds of content formats. It tells you how to write and edit user-focused content.
Guidance on each page helps you understand how to:
- create content for government
- use rules and conventions to create consistent content.
You can use the manual for services and products that are designed for end-users (external-facing content). It’s equally applicable to content for government users (internal-to-government content).
Your organisation might have its own style guide. Check if it is current and refers to the Style Manual.
Style rules and examples
You’ll find clear rules and examples throughout the manual.
Use the search box in the header of each page to find the guidance you’re looking for. Type your search query into the box to find relevant and related content.
Use the ‘Guidance’ headings at the top of each page to identify topics and rules.
Each heading leads to a concise statement of guidance. This is a style rule.
Rules are illustrated by examples. Find examples in a callout box titled ‘Example’.
This is an example.
Paired example boxes
Some examples are presented in pairs to compare what to do and what not to do.
These example boxes have paired headings like:
- ‘Write this’ and ‘Not this’
- ‘Like this’ and ‘Not this’.
Use these paired examples to confirm your understanding of the rule.
This is an example box. It shows you how to apply a rule.
This is an example box. It shows you what not to do.
Highlights in example boxes draw attention to the content the rule applies to. Look for highlights to understand how you should apply the rule in your content.
Some examples are followed by words in square brackets. These words clarify how the example relates to the rule.
Some Style Manual guidance is accompanied by additional highlighted information. These callouts mean you have other obligations to consider, as well as style.
The Style Manual includes information about accessibility requirements. This information is sourced directly from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Accessibility callouts explain which elements of WCAG should be considered when creating different types of content. They give practical advice and a link to more information about the criteria for accessibility.
Use the advice to create content that your users can understand.
I can understand any information contained in an image.
- Add alternative text for all images. For help with writing good alt text: the W3C alt text decision tree.
- Write alternative text that describes the information or function of the image. For help to describe images: the W3C/WAI Web accessibility images tutorial.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines success criterion:
Information management requirements
Information that you create as part of your work for the Australian Government is a record. Records provide evidence of what your organisation has done and why. Information management callouts explain your responsibility to manage and dispose of records.
When you handle personal information, you must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles. Privacy callouts explain your legal responsibility when collecting, handling and storing personal information.
Security classification requirements
Australian Government content is subject to security classification assessment under the Protective Security Policy Framework. Security classification callouts provide resources about applying security classifications and protective markings.
Digital Service Standard requirements
The Digital Transformation Agency’s Digital Service Standard is a set of criteria for designing and delivering government services. Digital Service Standards callouts identify criteria from the standard that might apply to your content.
Most of the guidance in the Style Manual applies to digital and print formats. There are particular things to keep in mind when you design content for print. These things appear as guidance under the heading ‘Print considerations’. The guidance is highlighted so it is easy to find.
Publishing Easy Read as a PDF means it may be read online or printed. When you have links in the material, you need to:
- provide clear link text and make sure it looks like a link
- spell out the URL next to the linked text.
The digital Style Manual supersedes the:
- Style manual for authors, editors and printers (sixth edition, 2002)
- Digital Transformation Agency’s Content Guide.
The ‘Release notes’ on Style Manual pages list any departures from the style guidance found in those sources.
Importantly, these notes also briefly describe any major updates made to pages since the manual went Live in 2020.
Sources that the Style Manual relies on
Style Manual guidance is based on evidence.
- data on language usage (corpus)
- user research
- Australian and international style rules and guidance
- best practice in accessibility and readability.
Each page has a form so you can give us feedback. We take your feedback into account when working on future releases.
Some Style Manual pages list evidence sources. Evidence refers to authoritative information sources that relate directly to a rule.
Reference lists contain sources that the authors consulted, not only the sources that informed the guidance.
Changes to our rules and guidance appear in the Style Manual’s ‘Changelog’. The Changelog is published quarterly. We also promote major revisions and new content in our monthly newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter on the Style Manual homepage.
About this page
This page was updated Tuesday 13 February 2024.