The seventh edition of the Australian Government Style Manual has officially been launched.
The latest version of the guide has this week been made available in an online format for the first time in its long history.
Digital Transformation Agency CEO Randall Brugeaud says the digital-first edition will help government departments and agencies “communicate clearly and consistently” with the public.
“Australians expect government information to be simple, clear and accessible,” he says.
“As we continue to make more government services available digitally, it is vital these services are communicated in a way that is fit for the digital age and is accessible to all Australians.”
As the Australian Public Service’s authoritative source of guidance for writing and editing, the manual covers a number of new topics such as social media, writing for search engines, and the use of inclusive language . The new format will also enable “ongoing iterations of style guidance, platform and delivery”, the DTA notes.
The manual has had several updates since it first launched in 1966 — the same year the metric system was introduced in Australia — with the last iteration released in 2002. The new version was originally scheduled to come out at the end of 2019, but was delayed.
The DTA has been working in partnership with Ethos CRS, the Australian National University’s Australian National Dictionary Centre, and Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand to develop the new edition.
Ethos CEO Chas Savage previously said the organisation wanted to provide comprehensive advice on whole-of-government standards and publishing requirements, as clear writing by government is important.
“People should be able to understand their rights and responsibilities, how they can access services and how they can meet obligations. Our objective is to make documents clearer and the lives of readers easier,” he said.
User research and prototype testing have informed the development of the new edition to ensure it meets the needs of its users, and, in July, the DTA launched the guide in Beta to gain public feedback.