Sometimes in life we get lucky. Something comes along that captures our imagination and interest and which aligns perfectly to the things that we’re passionate about.
Generally it’s love.
On this occasion, however, it’s the Commonwealth Style manual, which now is being developed as a new updated digital product by the Digital Transformation Agency.
The Digital Transformation Agency has selected Ethos CRS to lead the First stage of the project to develop the seventh edition of the Australian Government’s Style manual. It’s been a slow train coming: the sixth edition was released in 2002.
Our objective during this first stage is to precisely define the content that will meet the writing and editing needs of diverse audiences. We want to refresh and define government style and provide authoritative advice on whole-of-government standards and publishing requirements.
The first stage will run until September 2019. Work on the second stage of producing and delivering content will continue into 2020.
Large public sector agencies invest a huge amount of time and energy to produce and communicate important ideas. Ideas that have governments make better decisions; ideas that inform people about their rights and obligations; ideas that make the wheels of government turn more smoothly.
Poor writing style compromises the good work of government.
A style manual serves an essential purpose by defining standards and conventions that writers must apply or adopt in the documents they produce. By doing so it enables the routine work of government—the thinking about policy, programs and regulation, and the writing of documents—to be done well. It provides certainty and clarity, and protects operational staff from managerial caprice.
For an organisation that produces documents, a good style manual generates tangible gains because it catalyses the small changes in practice that make life easier for writers, reviewers, readers and citizens.
The project therefore is one that we’re passionate about and committed to.
Working with our partners—the Australian National Dictionary Centre at The Australian National University, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, and Principle Co—we’re looking to produce a Style manual that defines standards of clarity and precision for a digital age.