Style Manual on track to 2020 release

Style Manual is on schedule for release in 2020, with the completion this week of a third of the new content.

A screenshot of the Style Manual private beta website.
Caption: New Style Manual guidance

We’re now getting ready to test this content with users – government writers and editors. We want to make sure it will help them to make government content clear and consistent.

New and updated topics

The Style Manual is the Australian Government’s source of rules and guidance on writing and editing.

But the last edition is now almost 20 years old, and only available as a book. Previous user research has told us:

  • Age has diminished the authority of much of the rules and guidance.
  • Users need new content on digital.
  • The book is hard to find in agencies.

We’ve responded to these needs by creating a new edition that’s digital-first in all aspects: style guidance, platform and delivery.

New and updated topics include:

Social media

The major social media platforms didn’t exist in 2002. They’re now part of much government service delivery. But social media presents both opportunities and challenges for government. Our new topic aims to help agencies plan and take part in social media.

Writing for search engines

People find government services through search engines – the gov.au digital domain is complex. This means that government content writers need to be skilled in meeting people’s search intentions. In the new Style Manual, we encourage you to write for people.

Inclusive language

Language is powerful. It can both create and prevent discrimination. Language should be inclusive, not discriminatory.

We’ve updated the section on inclusive language to meet community expectations. Expanded and contemporary guidance includes:

  • age diversity
  • cultural and linguistic diversity
  • gender and sexual diversity
  • people with disability

We’ve worked with specialists from government and community groups to inform our advice.

Get involved in private Beta

We’ve released all this new content to private beta. Users with a gov.au email address can now access Style Manual to see what we’ve been working on.

Private Beta is when we build a digital product, based on what we learned from user research, and make it available to a small group of users to get their feedback. We’ve made this release available to government users because we did our Discovery and Alpha research with them. We will broaden access to Beta as we release more content, with the final Beta release in 2020 being public.

What to expect in private Beta

Our new content is a work in progress that we will iterate. This means it hasn’t been copy-edited yet, some links may not work and the formatting may not be perfect. However, it is good enough for us to start getting feedback to make sure we are on the right track.

Sign up to our mailing list to get access to private Beta

If you have a gov.au email address you can check out the Style Manual private Beta by signing up to our mailing list.

You can also get involved in user research as we test our content. We can’t wait to hear what you think.

Meaghan Newson is the Style Manual Product Manager and Susan Baird is the Style Manual Engagement Lead