Content style guide

Use the NSW Department of Education content style guide for all department websites and publications.

On this page

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Overview

To search this page for a specific term, use CTRL + F on a PC or Command F on a Mac.

If something isn't covered here, refer to the following:

If you have any feedback about this style guide, contact content@detcorpcomms.zendesk.com.

Abbreviations and acronyms

When abbreviating the NSW Department of Education, use 'the department' wherever possible. If space is a factor, such as in a tweet or a table heading, use 'DoE'.

Online search is very powerful so don’t assume your reader has seen the full explanation of an abbreviation or acronym on a previous page. Spell out and put an acronym in brackets for the first use on each web page.

It is easier for a reader if you do not constantly refer to the acronym. Use other words like 'the board' for variety.

When to use acronyms

Consider your audience when deciding whether to spell out an acronym. As long as your audience will understand, you can use the following acronyms on the first reference without first spelling them out.

We've included the full versions here for you to note the capital letters in the full versions, in the event that you need to spell it out for your audience. If you do, always spell out first then include the acronym in parentheses.

Note: Avoid using acronyms in page titles.

  • ABN – Australian Business Number
  • ACARA – Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority
  • ACT – Australian Capital Territory; no need to ever spell out (but spell out Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia except in postal addresses)
  • AQF – Australian Qualifications Framework
  • ATAR – Australian Tertiary Admission Rank
  • BYOD – bring your own device
  • BSB – Bank-State-Branch; no need to ever spell out
  • ebs4 – the official program name for enrolment business system; no need to ever spell out
  • ERN – enrolment and registration number
  • GST – goods and services tax
  • HSC – Higher School Certificate
  • HSIE – human society and its environment
  • ICT – information and communications technology
  • NAPLAN – National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy
  • NSW – New South Wales; no need to ever spell out (but spell out Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia except in postal addresses)
  • OASIS – office automation and school information system
  • P&C – parents and citizens association
  • P&C Federation – Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of New South Wales; include a link to the P&C Federation site if your audience won't be familiar with it
  • PDF – portable document format; use all caps; no need to ever spell out
  • PDHPE – personal development, health and physical education
  • SAP – systems applications and products
  • STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  • TAFE – Technical and Further Education; no need to ever spell out
  • TAS – technology and applied studies
  • UAC – Universities Admissions Centre
  • URL – uniform resource locator; no need to ever spell out

When to spell out terms in full

Always spell the following acronyms out on first reference unless you know for certain your audience will know the acronym better than the full name. Note the casing and exceptions to usual rules about acronyms.

  • Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG)
  • Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)
  • culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)
  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE)
  • Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
  • covered outdoor learning area (COLA)
  • creative and performing arts (CAPA)
  • English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D)
  • English as a second language (ESL; note: only use for specific programs. The preferred terms for general use is 'English as an additional language or dialect'.)
  • equal employment opportunity (EEO)
  • full-time equivalent (FTE)
  • highly accomplished teacher (HAT)
  • Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART)
  • individualised learning plan (ILP)
  • Industry Training Advisory Bodies (ITABs)
  • International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS)
  • Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR)
  • language background other than English (LBOTE) (note: the department considers students LBOTE if they or one of their parents or carers speaks a language other than English as their first language)
  • NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) (note: this replaces the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW as of 1 January 2017.)
  • OCHRE: opportunity, choice, healing, responsibility, empowerment
  • outside of school hours care (OOSHC)
  • Personalised Learning and Support Signposting Tool (PLASST)
  • personalised learning plan (PLP)
  • Primary Principals’ Association (PPA)
  • Primary Schools Sports Association (PSSA)
  • Professional English Assessment for Teachers (PEAT)
  • Record of School Achievement (RoSA)
  • registered training organisation (RTO)
  • release from face-to-face (RFF)
  • Resource Allocation Model (RAM)
  • schools for specific purposes (SSPs)
  • Secondary Principals’ Council (SPC)
  • senior executive service (SES)
  • student administration and learning management (SALM)
  • Student Representative Council (SRC) (note: if referring to SRC in general, use lower case – for example, 'Many schools include a student representative council (SRC) to ensure their student body feels well represented.')
  • vocational education and training (VET)
  • World War I (WWI)

Convention

Examples

Do not use full stops or spaces in common abbreviations and personal titles.

Do not include a space between a numeral and a measurement abbreviation.

UNICEF

Anzac

Mr

BA

DipEd

am

pm

9km

4MB

830KB (note: upper case)

p 4 (for page)

pp 7-9 (for consecutive pages)

Do not use eg, ie, NB or etc. Spell these out instead.

for example

that is

note

and so on

Use a full stop for less common abbreviations.

fig. (for figure)

cont. (for continued)

Do not use an apostrophe when pluralising an acronym.

SSPs

RTOs

Do not use acronyms in page headings. Spell them out in full or use an alternative word or phrase.

Understanding project-based learning (not ‘Understanding PBL’)

Frequently asked questions (not ‘FAQs’)

Special religious education (not ‘SRE’)

Special education in ethics (not ‘SEE’)

Bold, italics and underlining

Avoid using italics online. Do not use bold, italics or underlining in headings. Use only the styles provided.

Convention

Examples

Use bold if you must add emphasis to a particular word or phrase within a sentence.

To make sure a screen reader will read it correctly, use <strong> tags in HTML. Never use <b> tags.

Select New.

Make sure you have your director's approval before you fill in this form.

In general, don’t use italics online. Screen readers treat them inconsistently and dyslexic readers find them difficult to comprehend.

Instead, for titles of long publications use capital letters and inverted commas to set apart titles of short publications.

See also Publication titles.

For specific guidance about staff dress code, see the department’s Code of Conduct.

For step-by-step instructions, refer to the ‘Squiz Matrix how-to guide’.

Read 'Tomorrow When the War Began' for homework.

For more information, refer to the ‘Setting up a customer quick reference guide’.

Under the Education Act 1990, children must attend school from the age of 6.

You may use italics for scientific names or foreign words used within an English sentence.

To make sure a screen reader will pronounce foreign words and phrases correctly, use the appropriate HTML language code.

If a foreign word or phrase is commonly used in English, do not italicise it.

Choose low-maintenance plants like the peace lily (Spathiphyllum Wallisii) for your classroom.

The kanji in the Japanese texts in the specimen paper are drawn from the list of prescribed characters.

In German, words for ‘the’ include der, die and das.

In ancient times, Greece (Hellas) was made up of city-states.

We set up an ad hoc committee to deal with the subject.

If you haven’t already RSVP’d, please do so today.

Don’t underline or underscore any text.

Underlining makes text look like a link.

See also Unique cases for print only.

Capital letters

Keep capital letters to a minimum. Never use all caps.

We’ve outlined some general guidelines here, with specific examples below.

Use title case (where the first letter of each main word is upper case and the rest are lower case) for proper nouns. Proper nouns include:

  • people’s names
  • full position titles when used with a person's name
  • full names of organisations and companies
  • full names of conferences and events
  • full names of grants and programs
  • full names of official policies.

Use lower case for:

  • generic and plural forms of names and titles and terms, such as directors and principals
  • names of job types, such as director, nurse, manager or teacher
  • names of general program types or organisations, such as work health and safety course or human resources company.

Organisations, people and places

Convention

Examples

Use title case for organisation names when using the full name.

Use lower case when referring to them generally.

the Department of Education or the department

NSW Government or the government

the University of Sydney or the university

the Killara High School P&C Association or the association, your school's P&C association

NSW Health (not Ministry of Health)

Use title case for members of the department’s executive in all cases.

the Secretary of the Department of Education or the Secretary

the Deputy Secretary, School Operations and Performance or the Deputy Secretary

Deputy Secretaries

the Minister for Education or the Minister

Use title case for position titles when referring to a specific title and person, including their unit or directorate, if applicable.

Use lower case when using titles generally.

Anne Smith, Principal, Roseville Public School

Robert Jones, Principal, School Leadership

Toni Cheng, Director, Educational Leadership

Jill Smith, A/Principal, Roseville Public School

Peter Jones, R/Principal, Roseville Public School

John Brown, Web Advisor, Communication and Engagement

the principal, executive director, teacher, instructional advisor, acting principal, relieving principal

the director, educational leadership and principal, school leadership (PSL) are responsible for...

Use title case for the names of agencies or areas that have a public face, profile or brand.

Aboriginal Affairs

Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE)

Use title case for the names of divisions.

School Operations and Performance

External Affairs and Regulation

Corporate Services

Strategy and Evaluation

Use title case for directorates and business units, but lower case for the word 'directorate' and 'business unit' unless part of the official title.

Use lower case for any teams at a lower level than business units.

Asset Management

Audit directorate

Communication and Engagement

Digital Services

Employee Performance and Conduct

Futures Learning

Industrial Relations

Learning and Business Systems

Legal Services

Procurement Solutions Directorate

Schools Finance

the content team

web presence

Use title case for most government terms and titles.

the Prime Minister

the Treasurer

the Attorney-General

the Cabinet

the Treasury

the Act/Ordinance

the Executive

Parliament House, Commonwealth Parliament, the Parliament Library or ‘the debate in parliament continued for hours’

Australian Government (note: don’t use federal, national or commonwealth)

NSW Government or the government

Use title case when referring to a specific qualification, accreditation or course

Use lower case when referring to qualifications generally.

Bachelor of Education (Primary)

Certificate III in Skills for Work and Training

Professional Accomplishment

certificate III or diploma qualifications

a bachelor’s degree

a master’s degree

a PhD

Use title case for descriptive place names that have taken a semi-official status.

Use lower case for the descriptive part of most geographical names.

the Central Coast

North/South Coast

the Inner West

southern Australia

western Sydney

south-west Sydney

Use lower case for seasons unless part of a proper noun.the summer uniform

winter holidays

Spring Sports Carnival

Note the casing in these specific examples.

Aboriginal affairs (‘affairs’ is lower case unless referring to the agency. ‘Aboriginal’ always has an upper case A)

access request – lowercase unless referring to ERN Access Request

adult and community education (ACE)

Anzac (not ANZAC)

Australian Curriculum

bushfire program

EDConnect

Integration Funding Support

memorandum of understanding (not MOU)

MyPL

My School (for the website, not your own school)

non-government schools

NSW public schools (unless part of a full title such as NSW Public Schools State Drama Ensemble)

OCHRE: opportunity, choice, healing, responsibility, empowerment

quality teaching model (not framework)

quality teaching rounds

School Finder

specialist support classes

state

state office

Publication and program titles

ConventionExamples

Use title case for the names of policies, procedures, programs (including awards programs), assessments, syllabus and tests when using the full name.

Use lower case for subsequent/generic forms.

Do not italicise. If you need to set a title apart in text, use inverted commas.

Aboriginal Education Strategy or the strategy

National Quality Framework or the framework

Assisted School Travel Program or the program

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Best Start Kindergarten Assessment or the assessment

Community Languages Schools Program but community languages schools

Connected Communities

Department of Education Annual Report 2016 or the annual report

Education for a Changing World

Elsa Dixon Aboriginal Employment Program

Great Place to Work

Intensive English Centre (IEC) or the centre

Intensive English High School (IEHS) or the high school

Languages K-10 Framework

New Arrivals Program (NAP) or the program

Premier’s Public Sector Awards, Strengthening the Environment and Communities category

Rural and Remote Education: A blueprint for action

Saturday School of Community Languages

School Excellence Framework

Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus or the syllabus

Use title case for official national partnership names.

Do not italicise.

National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform

Low Socio-Economic Status School Communities National Partnership

Empowering Local Schools National Partnership

National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy

Use title case when referring to titles of long publications such as books, magazines, journals, movies and official reports, as well as legislation and official department policies.

Australian Journal of Education

Code of Conduct

Education Act 1990

Macquarie Dictionary

Performance Management and Development Policy

Style Manual: For authors, editors and printers

Sydney Morning Herald

Gone with the Wind

See also Publication titles.

School terminology

ConventionExamples

Use upper case for English and other languages.

Use lower case for all other subjects.

Arabic

English

French

Japanese

creative arts

economics

geography

mathematics

music

science and technology

Use lower case for key learning areas (KLAs), but use upper case for their abbreviations.

human society and its environment (HSIE)

personal development, health and physical education (PDHPE)

mathematics

Use upper case when referring to specific NAPLAN domain titles and references when used in conjunction with a specific score.

Use lower case when referring to literacy and numeracy in general.

National Minimum Standard

Numeracy – Band 6

The average score on the Reading assessment was 570.

At the department, we place strong emphasis on the importance of literacy and numeracy.

Use upper case when referring to a specific school year or stage.

See also Stages of learning.

Year 1, Year 2, Year 3

Years 1, 2 and 3

Years 1 to 3 (Years 1-3 in a table)

Stage 3

Kindergarten

(note: ‘preschool’ is always lower case)

Use upper case when referring to specific terms, weeks and semesters.

Term 3 Week 2

Term 2 2019

Term 1 Week 4 2019

Semester 1 2020

Website specifics

ConventionExamples

Only capitalise the first letter of a web page name and page headline unless the name contains a proper noun.

Academic opportunities

Scholarships and awards

Ministerial media releases

Working with children

Contact us

About us

Events calendar

When writing instructions for web applications, match the casing to what the user will see on their screen.

Use bold to emphasise the key elements in the instructions. In HTML, use <strong> tags, never <b> tags.

Use ‘select’ rather than ‘click’ as it is more inclusive.

Select File then Open.

Select SAVE.

Select Edit.

Open Asset Finder.

Hold down Alt and type 0150 on the numeric keypad.

Use lower case for 'department'

As per the 'Style Manual: For authors, editors and printers (sixth edition)', use lower case when using the generic form of the Department of Education – the department.

The Style Manual states:

'When organisations’ names are reduced to a generic element, the capitals can usually be dispensed with; capitals are retained, however, if the shortened version still carries a specific element. Thus, the Attorney-General’s Department becomes "Attorney-General’s" but "the department".’ (p 119).

The only exception is for briefings to the Minister. Refer to the correspondence and briefing guidelines from Ministerial and Executive Services (staff only) for more details.

Contact details

Use a call-out box at the end of your content to provide additional links or contact details.

Hyperlink the full email address so users can copy and paste if needed. Use mailto: instead of https:// in your link code.

Hyperlink phone numbers so users can dial directly from their smartphones. Use tel: instead of https:// in your link code and don't use spaces.

Start all call-out boxes with a heading that follows the existing heading hierarchy on the page. See below for examples.

Convention

Examples

If you need to list multiple formats, use a bullet list.

For more information about [topic], you can:

See also Lists.

Be consistent when listing contact details.

Include the area code – you never know where your audience is viewing your content from.

See the digital.nsw content style guide for more.

Joan Smith
Content Advisor
Learning and Business Systems
02 5550 0550
0405 555 555
email@det.nsw.edu.au

(Note: use soft returns between lines by holding down ‘Shift’ and pressing ‘Enter’ or ‘Return’)

See also Capital letters.

More information

For further reading and resources, visit:

Need help?

For help, email email@det.nsw.edu.au or call 1300 55 55 55.

How can we help?

For more information, contact:

Joan Smith
Content Advisor
02 5550 0550
0405 555 555
email@det.nsw.edu.au.

Copyright and citations

If you’re using any third-party material, you must cite it appropriately. Include the creator’s name linked to the source as well as the creative commons (CC) licence linked to the relevant creative commons web page.

Referencing NESA content

When attributing NESA use this style:

[Title of the document] © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, [Year of publication].

Example:

'By the end of Stage 4, students describe the nature of history and archaeology, as well as explain their contribution to an understanding of the past.'

History K–10 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, [Year of publication].

Copyright and terms of use

All NSW Department of Education resources require a copyright statement.

For a short version with a hyperlink, use the following:

© State of New South Wales (Department of Education), 2019.

When you can't include a hyperlink to the official copyright page, use the following:

© State of New South Wales (Department of Education), 2019.

The copyright material published in this resource is subject to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and is owned by the NSW Department of Education or, where indicated, by a party other than the NSW Department of Education (third-party material).

Copyright material available in this resource and owned by the NSW Department of Education is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.

This licence allows you to share and adapt the material for any purpose, even commercially.
Attribution should be given to © State of New South Wales (Department of Education), 2019.

Material in this resource not available under a Creative Commons licence:

  • the NSW Department of Education logo, other logos and trademark-protected material
  • material owned by a third party that has been reproduced with permission. You will need to obtain permission from the third party to reuse its material.

Correspondence guidelines

We use open punctuation for letters, emails and other correspondence. That means we do not use a comma after the salutation (Dear John) or closing (Yours faithfully).

Refer to the correspondence and briefing guidelines from Ministerial and Executive Services (staff only) for more details.

Dates and times

Convention

Examples

Do not use ordinals or commas when writing out dates, except when used as an introductory element.

22 January 2017

Wednesday 19 July 2017

On 4 July 2017, a group of American expats got together to celebrate Independence Day.

Use DD/MM/YY style for tables.01/08/17

31/10/16

Use the full name of the day and month where you can.

Use the approved shortened versions with no full stop where space is an issue, such as in a tweet, table heading or event listing.

Shortened forms for days: Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Shortened forms for months: Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Use a hyphen in year ranges.

When both years share the first two digits, shorten the second year to only include the second two digits.
Financial year 2016-17

Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-20

Use a hyphen without spaces in simple date ranges

Use a hyphen with spaces in ranges that span multiple months.

Use words when you include a range in dates within a sentence.

19-21 July 2018

31 August - 2 September

Our offices are closed from 23 December 2017 to 7 January 2018.

School holidays are from 10 to 21 April.

Do not use apostrophes when referring to decades.

1960s (not 1960’s or ‘60s)

Use numerals for times.

Use a colon between hours and minutes.

Do not leave a space between the numerals and 'am' or 'pm'.

9am

9:30am

noon (not midday; use 12pm in tables)

midnight (12am in tables)

Use words when you include a range in times within a sentence.

Use a hyphen between times in tables or simple text.

Our office is open from 9am to 4:30pm.

Call the office between 9 and 11am.

9am-4:30pm

9-11am

Ellipses

An ellipsis is always three dots … like that. No spaces between them.

Formatting will always follow one of two styles: in the middle of a sentence or between two sentences.

In the middle of a sentence

When used in the middle of a sentence, an ellipsis has a space on either side. The first letter after it will be lower case.

Harry, who led a bayonet charge, whose father described him as ‘A fine athlete … ardent, over eager.’

Between two sentences

When used between two sentences, include the end punctuation from the first sentence, followed by an ellipsis with spaces on either side. The first letter after the ellipsis will be upper case.

“You will have heard of our work landing under shrapnel fire, attacking with fixed bayonets up the precipitous spurs through the dense undergrowth. ... We were greatly split up.”

Hyperlinks

In general, don't spell out URLs in the online space. Instead, hyperlink keywords to point the user in the right direction.

Never hyperlink an H2 heading as it confuses the anchor link box at the top of the page. Avoid hyperlinks on other headings if possible.

Convention

Examples

When listing our main website online, use education.nsw.gov.au as the link text.

Do not include 'www.' or 'https://' in the text that users see.

Make sure any punctuation is not in hyperlink style.

Use education.nsw.gov.au as your default homepage.

For a thorough understanding of the way we work, visit education.nsw.gov.au/about-us.

When listing URLs in print, use education.nsw.gov.au.

Do not include 'www.' or 'http://'.

Do not include a final slash for longer URLs.

Make sure any punctuation is not in hyperlink style.

For more tips, visit education.nsw.gov.au/road-safety-education.

[Example in a footer]
education.nsw.gov.au

Match your link text to the destination. Include keywords from the page you're referring to, if not the full title of the page itself.

If you use a page or document title in your hyperlink, match the casing of the thing you're linking to. Otherwise, hyperlink text should stay in sentence case.

Don’t use the same text for different destinations.

Never use ‘click here’ or other generic instructions.

Use active voice not passive voice.

Do not select 'open in new window' for hyperlinks to avoid confusion.

Make sure any sentence punctuation is outside the hyperlink, including commas, full stops and spaces.

Go to Policies and procedures for more details.

For more information read the cyber safety section of the Technology guide for parents and carers.

Visit the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) website to download the continuum of skills.

Use 'staff only' within the link text when you link from a publicly available page to a staff-only page or document.

Find more details in the Pay, leave and benefits (staff only) section of the human resources intranet.

For more information, refer to the Budget Policy (staff only).

Download the quick reference guide (staff only) (PDF 160KB).

When linking to internal downloads, include details about the file format and size. Include this information as part of the link to ensure a screen reader reads this before the user chooses to download the file.

Use the file size that comes up in ‘document properties’.

Do not link to downloads we do not own. Instead, link to the web page that includes the download link. If the owner of that content updates the download, we would run the risk of linking to outdated information.

Do not select 'open in new window' for hyperlinks to avoid confusion.

Download all schools personas (PDF 1.81MB)

Application to enrol in a NSW Government school (PDF 155KB)

Guide to the National Quality Standard (PDF 8.6MB)

Template 1: approved provider notice (DOC 60KB)

Template 2: approved parent and carer notice (DOCX 89KB)

(note: KB is upper case)

See also Linking guidelines.

Hyphens, dashes and ellipses

Convention

Examples

Several common words do not contain a hyphen.

coordinate

coursework

keyword

interagency

login (when used as a noun or adjective) but log in (verb)

prerequisite

schoolwork

socioeconomic

statewide

textbook

videoconference, videoconferencing

wellbeing

Use hyphens for compound adjectives when used before the noun they modify.

evidence-based evaluation (but note no hyphen in: the evaluation is evidence based)

full-time staff (but note no hyphen in: the staff member is full time)

long-term arrangement (but note no hyphen in: the arrangement was long term)

up-to-date content (but note no hyphen in: the content is up to date)

school-based staff (but note no hyphen in: the staff is school based)

post-school activities (but note no hyphen in: the activities are post school)

work-life balance

Commonwealth-state agreement

South-East Asia

decision-making (a decision-making process, and the art of decision-making)

Several common terms appear as two separate words.

Do not hyphenate compound modifiers that include an -ly word.

a lot

cross curriculum

full stop

log in (when used as a verb)

play space

a finely honed argument

Use hyphens in number spans and ranges, not en dashes.

Spell out the appropriate word (‘to’ or ‘and’) within a sentence or heading.

pages 31-35

2016-18

9am-5pm

Read pages 31 to 35 and report back on Monday.

Our working hours are between 9am and 5pm.

Use en dashes with spaces in headings, not colons or ellipses.

Great Teaching, Inspired Learning – a guide

Resources – extension courses

English – standard

Use en dashes with spaces to signify an abrupt change in a sentence or to set apart a parenthetical element.

Enrolment is available on a quota basis – but not in this case.

Schools must provide required resources – textbooks, phones and computers – as well as supervision.

How do I insert an en dash?

In most programs, you can find an en dash under ‘Insert’ then ‘Special characters’.

In Microsoft programs, the ‘Special characters’ menu is under ‘Symbols’ then ‘More symbols’. These programs will also auto-correct a hyphen with a space - like this - as you type. Just make sure you hit the space bar to make it appear.

Keyboard shortcuts

On a PC, hold down the Alt key and type 0150 on your numeric keypad.

On a Mac, hold down the option key and type a hyphen.

Lists

In general, opt for bulleted (unordered) lists rather than numbered (ordered) lists.

Numbered lists make more sense if you're talking about a step-by-step process.

Convention

Examples

Use a colon to introduce a list within a sentence.

Use lower case for the first word of the dot points (except where this is a proper noun) and place a full stop at end of last word in the list.

Greenville High School offers music lessons with the following instruments:

  • violin
  • cello
  • clarinet.

Use a colon to introduce a list that consists of self-contained sentences.

Use a capital at the beginning of each line, and full stop at the end of each sentence.

The inquiry came to two conclusions:

  • Students can only participate if they have written consent from their parents or carers.
  • Parents and carers need specific information before they sign the form.

Use a colon to introduce a multi-level list that serves as part of a sentence.

Use the bullet hierarchy as shown.

Do not use a colon within sub-levels.

Do not use more than two sub-levels within a list.

We can summarise these features as follows:

  • physical characteristics
    • considerable climatic variability
      • unstable heat
      • irregular rainfall
    • extensive coral reefs and offshore islands
  • ecosystem characteristics
    • many unique species of plants and animals
    • limited and highly variable water resources.
Do not use a colon at the end of a subheading that introduces a list.

Do not use a colon to introduce a standalone list, such as in a PowerPoint presentation. Do not use a full stop at the end of a standalone list

Awareness week agenda

  • The director will host a community morning tea.
  • We will launch the awareness week booklet.

Furniture and equipment for meeting room

  • Chairs (25)
  • Desks (2)
  • Lectern
  • Microphone
  • Overhead projector
  • Electronic whiteboard

Multimedia content (images and videos)

You can't publish information that identifies a person – a student, a parent or carer, or any other individual – without their permission. Find out more about permission to publish (staff only).

Photos and images

Images should add value and/or provide context to your content. Don’t use images in a purely decorative sense. Don’t use third-party images without copyright approval and proper attribution (See copyright and citations).

Include a caption and alt text for all images. For screen shots, use the alt text 'Screen shot of step 3' for example. Learn more about image guidelines.

When using an image on your website, use the image with caption component.

Use the in-page editor to upload screen shots used in instructional content.

These rules also apply to charts, diagrams and graphs.

Image dimensions

Image type Width (pixels) Height (pixels)
Full size banner (with button and text) 1100 524
Shallow banner (image only) 2220 460
Content teaser 600 680
Image with caption 1094638
Feature news item/media release/announcement 670 506
Catalogue 426 296

Example of image with caption on a standard web page

Coogee Beach

Coogee is a beachside suburb of local government area City of Randwick 8 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. "Coogee Beach" by alex1derr is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Videos

Videos must be hosted on the Department’s enterprise video hosting service, Brightcove. Videos also must have captions, a HTML transcript and, if required, an audio description of what is seen.

Include the title of the video and its length in an introductory sentence before embedding the video.

Don't rely on auto captioning services as they often include errors. You can use these captions as a starting point, but make sure you manually edit them.

Video transcripts should:

  • be presented as a web page
  • clearly indicate who the speaker is
  • include relevant non-verbal information in square brackets
  • finish with ‘End of transcript’
  • sit on a hidden page, accessed from a link directly under the video.

When embedding a video in a web page, follow this format:

Video – heading in appropriate hierarchy

Duration – min:sec

[embed video with Brightcove code]

Transcript of [Video title in sentence case] video

See also Copyright and citations
See also Video guidelines

Numbers

Convention

Examples

Use numerals for numbers that represent facts. They’re easier to read online.

Use words for numbers that do not represent specific data.

To avoid starting a sentence with a numeral, rephrase the sentence.

Section 1 covers the rules.

The evaluation requires one-on-one interviews with all parties.

Hundreds of people showed up to the banquet.

More than 500 people showed up to the banquet.

Of the mothers of the 30 sets of twins, 8 had no previous children, 9 had one child, 7 had two children and 6 had three previous children.

Use words for ordinal numbers less than 10. Use numerals for 10 and above.

Use numerals with centuries.

The first example.

The ninth example.

Hawaii was the 50th state to join the USA.

the 20th century

Use numerals for measurements.

Spell out the measurement when it's in a sentence. Use a space between the numeral and measurement when it's spelled out.

Abbreviate the measurement in tables. Don't leave spaces between numerals and the symbol.

7 kilometres

45.9 seconds

7km (in a table)

45.9s (in a table)

Use commas, not spaces, for 1,000 and above.

There were 1,500 respondents to the survey.

More than 10,000 people attended.

Spell out 'million', 'billion' and other large numbers when referring to round numbers.

You can abbreviate in less formal communication such as social media.
You can earn from 500 to 5 million dollars.

The house cost $5.3 million.

10K = 10,000

1M = 1 million

Spell out simple fractions and use hyphens.

Express a mixed fraction in figures unless it is the first word of a sentence.

One-half of the pies are vegetarian.

We require a two-thirds majority...

We expect a 5.5% wage increase.

Five and one-half per cent was the maximum...

Use the % symbol when referring to percentages.

Nearly 50% of our staff responded.

Percentages can represent two different things:

  • absolute change in value – for example, 10% changing to 13% is a 3 percentage point change
  • relative change in value – for example, 10% changing to 13% is a 30% increase.

To clarify when expressing the change between two percentage values, express the value before and after the change, as well as the difference you intend to highlight.

The absence rate decreased from 10% to 5% – a drop of 5 percentage points.

Use numerals to express precise mathematical relationships.

Leave spaces between numerals and symbols, except with ratio and percentages or when a plus or minus sign indicates a positive or negative value.

21 + 32 = 53

15 / 3 = 5

4:1

25%

-2

+2

Use roman numerals if part of the established name

World War II
Cleopatra VII, Darius III, Henry VIII,

See also Dates and times.

Publication titles

Convention

Examples

Use title case when referring to titles of long publications such as books, magazines, journals, movies, artwork and official reports, as well as legislation and official department policies.

This means the first letter of each major word is capitalised.

Australian Journal of Education

Code of Conduct

Education Act 1990

Macquarie Dictionary

Performance Management and Development Policy

Style Manual: For authors, editors and printers

Sydney Morning Herald

Starry Night

Gone with the Wind

Use sentence case for titles of short publications such as articles, videos, fact sheets, quick reference guides, procedure documents and form names.

This means only the first letter is capitalised. Proper nouns always retain their initial capitals.

Distance education enrolment procedures

Getting ready for school

Social media policy implementation procedures

NSW budget for education 2016-2017

Request for formal exemption

Use single quotation marks or inverted commas when using a publication title within a sentence, where required for clarity.

Read ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’ for homework.

For more information, refer to the ‘Setting up a customer quick reference guide’.

According to a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, minimal punctuation is the way of the future.

The school assembly will sing 'I Still Call Australia Home'.

See also Capital letters.

Quotation marks

Convention

Examples

Use single quotation marks to set apart titles of short publications, phrases or words within a sentence.

Set your final full stop or other punctuation mark outside the quotation mark.

Do not use quotation marks for emphasis.

For more information, refer to the ‘Setting up a customer quick reference guide’.

‘People with disability’ is the preferred term.

Use ‘vision impaired’ not ‘blind’.

Use single quotation marks to set apart quotes from written publications.

Set your final full stop or other punctuation mark outside the quotation mark for partial quotes, but inside the quotation mark for full sentences.

The report recommends turning teacher education ‘upside down’ by implementing ‘programs that are fully grounded in clinical practice and interwoven with academic content and professional courses’.

The report notes, ‘Better evidence of the effectiveness of initial teacher education in the Australian context is needed to inform innovative program design and delivery.’

Use double quotation marks for quotes within quotes.

‘Document 10 describes the “disorganised retreat” of a first wave of lightly armed soldiers.’

Use double quotation marks for direct speech.

I was having a kick with them and I said to mum, “These kids have got some talent. They need to be out playing soccer in the community.”

Use a block quote for quotes longer than 30 words.

A report by the Australian Council for Education Research (2014) states:

There is now an urgent challenge to promote high quality teaching in every Australian classroom, to ensure that every teacher is doing what the best teachers already do, and to raise the status of teaching as an advanced, knowledge-based profession. Initial teacher education has a central and crucial role to play in addressing this challenge.

Schools

In general usage, say ‘public school’ as the first preference or ‘government school’ to vary your vocabulary. Do not use ‘state school’.

If you do have to mention private schools, say ‘private school’ or ‘non-government school’.

Note: the private school sector is divided into Catholic and independent schools (lower case). To avoid confusion, stick to ‘private school’ or ‘non-government school’ as there are some Catholic independent schools.

Check the spelling of the school on the School Finder.

Convention

Examples

Use upper case for names of primary schools and refer to them as ‘Public School’.

Bundeena Public School (note: use this style even though the school may be listed as Bundeena Primary School)

Use upper case for names of secondary schools and refer to them as ‘High School’.

South Sydney High School

Use upper case for the full title of a school for specific purposes (SSPs; NEVER ‘special’).

Use lower case when referring to SSPs in general. The same rule applies for environmental education centres, distance education centres and other specialty schools.

Alexandria Park Community School

Coffs Harbour Learning Centre

Coffs Harbour Senior College

Dubbo School of Distance Education

Hunter School of Performing Arts

John Hunter Hospital School

Southern Cross Distance Education Centre

The Beach School

Westfields Sports High School

boarding school

Differentiate campuses of the same college with a comma, using lower case for the campus delineation unless it includes a proper noun.

Callaghan College, Jesmond campus (note: lower case campus)

Callaghan College, Waratah technology campus

Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay campus

Note: some schools have an additional descriptive word that differentiates them from another school.

Matraville Soldiers Settlement Public School is different from Matraville Public School

Spelling and word choice

The Macquarie Dictionary is our definitive guide. When the dictionary presents two options, use the first. We’ve called out some specific examples here because they tend to cause confusion.

For spelling and casing of computer or technical terms that aren't specified here, refer to the Computer Hope dictionary. Note that some of the terms listed there use American spelling, so correct these to Australian where possible.

A

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Use instead of ‘Indigenous’ in relation to Aboriginal Australians. Refer to the digital.nsw writing for inclusivity guide for more detail.

Aborigine: do not use at all in relation to Aboriginal Australians

additional learning needs: not 'special needs'

affect: means to influence or cause a change (Her cold affected her singing.)

a lot: two words

alternate: means to take turns (Day and night alternate.)

alternative: means a different choice (We’ll find you an alternative date for the workshop.)

among: not amongst

ampersand: don't use unless it is part of a name (Killara High School P&C Association)

apostrophes: don’t use in place names (Coffs Harbour, Kings Cross) or for boys and girls schools (Canterbury Girls High) or in any NSW public school name (Taverners Hill Public School). BUT boys' sports and girls' education take possessive apostrophe.

Possesive apostrophes: if you pronounce the ‘s then add an s after the apostrophe. If you don’t, just use the apostrophe (the Smiths’ car, the Joneses’ new house, Jesus’s disciples).

artmaking: one word

B

bring your own device (BYOD): lower case unless using the acronym

bushfire: one word

C

co-curricular: use instead of 'extra-curricular' (Our school offers a range of co-curricular activities.)

commas: do not use the Oxford comma, or final serial comma, unless you need to clarify a complex list. (The shop sells apples, bananas and potatoes. Our directorates include Communication and Engagement, Audit, and Health and Safety.)

complementary: means completing (The complementary strategies will satisfy all stakeholders.)

complimentary: means either flattering or free (The Attorney-General made some complimentary remarks. We’ll be issuing 50 complimentary tickets.)

COVID-19: ensure all references use the full name in uppercase as it's an acronym and there are other coronaviruses in the world. For print uses, link to education.nsw.gov.au/covid-19.

D

data: use data as a singular noun (This data indicates that NSW Government schools are highly effective.)

day care: two words

degrees: a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a PhD

discreet: means circumspect or restrained (Be discreet in your treatment of a contentious issue.)

discrete: means distinct or separate (The work is in two discrete parts.)

dos and don'ts: note the apostrophe

E

ebook: no hyphen

either/neither: either takes or, neither takes nor

effect: a verb – to bring about. (He effected a return to profit.) Also used as noun, meaning a result, a consequence (The effect of heat).

e-learning: note the hyphen

Elder: Aboriginal Elder

email: no hyphen

English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D)

English as a second language (ESL; note: only use for specific programs. The preferred terms for general use is 'English as an additional language or dialect'.)

enquiry: use inquiry

e-safety: note the hyphen

exclamation marks: use sparingly

extra-curricular: use 'co-curricular' instead (Our school offers a range of co-curricular activities.)

ezine: no hyphen

F

fewer than: use with nouns that can be counted (fewer than 50 students scored...; see also 'less than')

G

GIF: upper case

Gigabytes: GB

go live: verb (When you're ready for your site to go live, follow the process.)

go-live: noun or adjective (Before go-live, make sure you’ve reviewed the content guidelines. As part of the go-live process, the team will conduct a verification scan.)

Great Teaching, Inspired Learning

H

headings and subheadings: use an initial capital and then lower case except for proper nouns

homepage: one word

I

inclusive language: take a 'people first' approach to ensure your language is inclusive.

Indigenous: use Aboriginal as an adjective and noun instead of Indigenous when referring to NSW residents. Indigenous is a common term that you may use to refer to a business entity or business function.

inquiry: means an investigation (The department is conducting an inquiry into the incident.) or question (Thank you for your inquiry.)

internet: lower case

iPad: follow Apple’s style for similar devices

J

JPG: upper case (no need to spell out)

L

learning from home: use this term in all instances (this is different from 'distance education' and 'remote learning'; avoid ‘online learning’ as not all students use the internet)

less than: use with mass nouns that are continuous and can't be counted (teachers spend less than half their week...; see also 'fewer than')

licence: noun (His driver’s licence was suspended.)

license: verb (The service is licensed for up to 29 children.)

live stream: two words

login (noun or adjective); log in (verb)

M

more than: use instead of 'over' unless you're referring to something happening over time (more than 50 per cent of students; over the past 10 years more than 60 schools...)

O

online: one word

over: use 'more than' unless you're referring to something happening over time (see also 'more than')

P

parents and carers: the preferred term for inclusion (not caregivers)

PDF: upper case (no need to spell out)

pedagogy: avoid in external communication – means the function, work or art of a teacher – teaching practice covers this term.

per cent: use the % symbol with a numeral (The survey had a 30% take-up rate. We saw an increase of 5 percentage points.)

percentage: one word

portal: lower case (staff portal, student portal, parent portal)

practice: noun (It will take staff some time to reach best practice. He opened a medical practice.)

practise: verb (I want to practise my tennis serve.)

program: don't use 'programme' unless it's part of an official name.

pronouns: use the pronouns a person specifies to refer to them. If the person hasn't specified a pronoun, use gender-neutral terms, such as 'you' or 'they'.

S

screen shot: 2 words; don't use 'screen grab'

sound bite: not sound byte

spacing: only one space after a full stop, not two

special needs: use 'additional learning needs' instead

stakeholders: try to use descriptive words when you're talking about one or two different groups of people

standalone: one word

state school: don't use; say public or government school

subheading: one word

T

titles: Mr, Mrs, Ms, Miss, Dr (note: many teachers/educators/bureaucrats have PhDs, so refer to them as Dr) For children under 18, use their first name.

towards: use this instead of ‘toward’ as the latter is American spelling

U

URL: upper case (no need to spell out)

V

videoconference: one word

W

web

web page

website

web 2.0

world wide web

whilst: don't use – while is more approachable and, therefore, most appropriate

wi-fi

X

Xmas: don't use – use Christmas

Z

-ze endings: use -se, for example emphasise, realise; but capsize

Stages of learning

Try to avoid using stages of learning. If you know the students are in Year 2, say Year 2 not Stage 1. Year 5 and 6 is also more descriptive than Stage 3.

If you need to refer to the stage because an education program is specific to the (generally) 2 years of learning denoted by the stage, then stage is upper case. Do not abbreviate. For example: A study of history and geography is mandatory in Stages 4 and 5.

Statistics

ConventionExamples

Statistical significance is a specific concept that indicates that a difference between two numbers, or a relationship between two characteristics, has been tested using a statistical technique.

Where possible, justify all claims of statistical significance by reporting the relevant p-value in parentheses.

Avoid using the word 'significant' unless you are specifically referring to statistical significance.

Brown eyes have a significant effect on student achievement (p=.001).

A substantial number of rural and remote schools report having trouble finding teaching staff.

Where possible, report on the size of effects as well as their statistical significance. Report the effect size (d), odds-ratio, or regression coefficient, and/or an intuitive explanation of the results.

The effect size of brown eyes is 0.550. This means that students with brown eyes are predicted to score 20 NAPLAN points above students with blue eyes

When discussing general relationships between variables, justify all claims by reporting either the correlation or the R2 value. Where possible, interpret this for the reader.

The correlation was .5, meaning that 25% of the variation in performance is explained by variation in eye colour.

For primary analysis, include a table of descriptive statistics (including sample size, mean/standard deviation, and sample proportions for the key variables), either where you are discussing the data and method, or in the appendix. A quasi-experimental study of 2,000 Australian students (Bezzina 2010) found that brown eyes were significantly related to student performance. 

In decimals, if the value you are reporting has the potential to exceed 1.0, then use a leading zero. If the value does not have the potential to exceed 1.0 (for example correlations or p-values), then do not report the leading zero.

The effect size of brown eyes is 0.55. The p-value is .01.

Ensure all estimates are reported to the same number of decimal places and are aligned. Generally this means three decimal places, but you may need to report a greater or lesser amount of detail depending on your variables.

Only report as much detail as is necessary — make the tables as simple as possible.

Find examples of tables in the next section.

If you are reporting on estimates with standard errors, include confidence intervals in all graphs, and report either the confidence interval or the standard error in all tables (either in a separate column or in parentheses).

Avoid discussing confidence intervals or standard errors in the main body. Instead, discuss magnitude and statistical significance of coefficients.

Find examples of tables in the next section.

For literature reviews, mention the characteristics of the study's sample if it may affect the reader's interpretation of the results. These characteristics might include:

  • country
  • time period
  • sample size (particularly if very large or less than 100)
  • scholastic year or school type examined
  • type of method (for example randomised controlled trial, quasi-experimental design, pre-post comparison).

Statistics in tables

Use the following examples to help you present results and descriptive statistics.

Example of a table showing results
VariableCoefficientSEp
Brown eyes0.5500.068.001
SES0.4140.011<.001
Brown hair0.0120.049.510
R2.249  
n14,645  
Example of a table (alternative) showing results
VariableCoefficient (SE)
Brown eyes0.550 (0.068) ***
SES0.414 (0.011) ***
Brown hair0.012 (0.049) 
R2.249
n14,645

Note: *p<.10; **p<.05; ***p<.01

Example of a table showing descriptive statistics
VariableCategoriesn%
SectorGovernment21761.47
SectorCatholic7320.68
SectorIndependent6317.85
LocationMetropolitan24168.27
LocationNot metropolitan11231.73
Example of a table showing descriptive statistics
VariableCategoriesMeanSD
SizeContinuous923425
SESContinuous (standardised)01
Academic achievementContinuous (standardised)01

Unique cases for news articles in print and online

When writing a press release or blog post, follow this style.

Convention

Examples

Use present tense and active voice for headlines.

Keep headlines to no more than 65 characters. Include keywords.

Secretary announces Education Week theme

New roles support student learning

Use a full sentence for summary text or lead paragraph.

Keep summary text to 150 characters including spaces, so you can use it as the teaser text and metadescription as well.

Do not repeat the summary text in the main body of the article.

The Secretary, Mark Scott, announces the theme for Education Week 2018.

A new team of 50 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy Advisors will start work in NSW public schools in Term 2.

Use double quotation marks to set apart quotes from direct speech.

Use past tense for quotes.

Set your final full stop or other punctuation mark outside the quotation mark for partial quotes, but inside the quotation mark for full sentences.

“We want to ensure growing neighbourhoods have the schools that families will need into the future,” Mr Stokes said.

Mr Magriplis noted that the department would “consult with the community about other aspects that will lay foundations for the identity and culture of the school”.

Use the speaker's full name and title on first reference.

Use surname and salutation on subsequent references for adults. If unsure whether someone prefers 'Ms', 'Mrs' or other, ask them.

Use first name for children under 18 years old.

First reference: Cherrybrook Technology High School maths teacher Eddie Woo
Second reference: Mr Woo

First reference: Ada Fang from Sydney Girls High School
Second reference: Ada

Use this specific wording for members of the Secretary and Ministers.

Use the full, formal title for uses outside the department's own channels.

Use the slightly less formal title for the department's own website.

Use the shorthand for subsequent references when it's clear who you're referring to.

Formal: Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, Mark Scott, said…
Less formal:  Secretary Mark Scott
Shorthand: the Secretary

Formal: Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, said…
Less formal: Education Minister Rob Stokes
Shorthand: the Minister

Formal: Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Sarah Mitchell, said…
Shorthand: the Minister

Formal: Minister for Early Childhood Education, Sarah Mitchell
Less formal: Early Childhood Education Minister Sarah Mitchell
Shorthand: the Minister

See also News guidelines.

Unique cases for print only

Refer to the Style manual: For authors, editors and printers, 6th edition. Where the department’s style differs or requires further clarification, we’ve noted it here. For all other cases, print follows the same conventions set out above.

Italics

Only use italics for the full name of an Act (the Education Act 1990). Do not italicise shortened versions, acronyms or regulations.

Use italics to set apart long publication titles, and inverted commas to set apart short publication titles.

Hyperlinks

Where URLs appear in text, style them as normal text. Shorten as much as possible, excluding the http:// or www. unless the link won’t work without them. Use a bit.ly link or similar shortener if you need to shorten a particularly long link.

If a hyperlink appears as part of a full sentence, include the ending punctuation after it, but make sure the punctuation isn't in hyperlink style.

For a thorough understanding of the way we work, visit education.nsw.gov.au/about-us.

Numbers

Use words for zero and one. Use numerals for 2 and above. Do not start a sentence with a numeral.

Use numerals for a related series of numbers, regardless of the size of those numbers.

The collection includes 47 paintings by 16 artists, 7 of whom were born in Australia, 1 in Kenya and 8 in China.

Write out ‘per cent’ for percentages in text. Use the % symbol for charts and tables.

Avoid ending a sentence with a numeral if your publication uses footnotes.

Refer to Style Manual for more examples.

Vanity URLs

Vanity URLs is the name for a shortened URL or friendly URL.

Where there is a strong argument for doing so, long URLs can be shortened.

The vanity URL simply redirects to the actual (persistent) URL. The original URL is still the place where the page actually lives.

Where a URL is going to appear in printed materials (i.e. factsheets, brochures, literature, etc.) a vanity URL might look better in print and may be easier to remember.

Example:

Original (persistent) URL – https://education.nsw.gov.au/inside-the-department/great-place-to-work

Shortened (vanity) URL – education.nsw.gov.au/great-place-to-work

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