Australian Style Manual

We’re updating the old manual and developing new content

style manual

Ethos CRS is producing the content for the new edition of the Style Manual—a searchable, functional, comprehensive, practical and authoritative guide for writers and editors working in Australian Government agencies. We are working with the Digital Transformation Agency, which has overall responsibility for the project and which selected Ethos CRS after a competitive and open process of procurement.

The new Style Manual will define government content and writing style and provide comprehensive advice on whole-of-government standards and publishing requirements.

A digital edition available online

Importantly, this edition will be published in a digital format. It will be online and freely available to members of the Australian Public Service. You’ll be able to access it on your phone, laptop or desktop, which means the days of a heavy, hardcopy manual are numbered.

This digital edition will address topics and communication platforms that have become commonplace in government communications since the last Style Manual. We’re developing content in three pillars, which generally reflect topics in the last edition:

  • writing and content design
  • house writing style, rules and conventions
  • publishing requirements.

We are reviewing and improving content on topics such as accessibility—so anyone can understand content—and the use of clear English. We are also including content on:

  • ways of identifying the readers of government writing
  • style conventions for the use of media such as videos and social media.

The new Style Manual will remain the authoritative guide and standard for punctuation and grammar, with an emphasis on minimal punctuation.

How we’re working

We’re benefiting from the work that the DTA has done with government departments and agencies and from the DTA’s understanding of what’s essential for users of the Style Manual and for the readers of content produced by government.

Using these insights, we are developing content in two stages:

  • In Stage 1, now complete, we planned the project. We defined the scope, the information architecture and the approach to developing content.
  • We are working on Stage 2, which will conclude by the middle of 2020. In this stage we are researching, developing, reviewing and publishing content.

After we complete each pillar, the DTA works with public sector agencies that will be using the new manual. The insights the DTA receives will be carefully incorporated into content that is ready for publication.

Our team and partners are amazing

The DTA develops policies, standards and platforms that enable the effective delivery of digital and information and communications technologies to Australian Government agencies. The DTA is mandated to improve digital services provided by the Australian Government—and improve the skills within government to deliver these services.

In addition to digital expertise and insights, the DTA brings to the project the results of an extensive program of user research and a formal network of engaged users.

Our teams and our partners are experts on Australian English, clear English, digital communications, social media and publication protocols. We can guarantee that, when published, the new edition will be fit for purpose and for service. Our partners include:

Why is the Style Manual being updated?

The last edition of the Style Manual was published in 2002. Our readership—how they read, where they read and what they read—is now very different. Platforms are different, as is our appetite for text. Few of us want to read a formal written document.

This new edition will guide the production of content that is fit for a digital environment and aligned to a readership that, almost exclusively, reads digital content.

Want to write clear, stylish documents?

Ethos CRS is Australia’s leading company in plain English, clear writing, business writing and government communications. 

We work with organisations to build skills, improve the clarity of documents and improve how documents are produced by professionals. Our writers and editors can also draft documents and content for your organisation.

For more information about how we can assist you or your organisation, please contact us at: service@ethoscrs.com.au.

If you have questions for the DTA about the Style Manual, then contact them at: stylemanual@dta.gov.au.

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