NSW Department of Education content style guide

Use the NSW Department of Education content style guide for all department websites and publications. Register for a Writing for the web workshop (staff only) to hone your skills and get feedback from your peers.

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

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

If you have any feedback about this style guide, contact Lucy Sutton, Manager Content Strategy, Communication and Engagement.

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. Note, though, the capital letters in the full versions.

  • ABN (Australian Business Number)
  • ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority)
  • AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework)
  • ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank)
  • BYOD (bring your own device)
  • ebs4 (the official program name for enrolment business system)
  • 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; but spell out Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia etc)
  • OASIS (office automation and school information system)
  • 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)
  • TAS (technology and applied studies)
  • URL (universal 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)
  • 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)
  • 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 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
  • Personalised Learning and Support Signposting Tool (PLASST)
  • personalised learning plan (PLP)
  • Primary Principals’ Association (PPA)
  • Professional English Assessment for Teachers (PEAT)
  • Record of School Achievement (RoSA)
  • registered training organisation (RTO)
  • Resource Allocation Model (RAM)
  • schools for specific purposes (SSPs)
  • Secondary Principals’ Council (SPC)
  • senior executive service (SES)
  • student administration and learning management (SALM)
  • vocational education and training (VET)
  • World War I (WWI)



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.










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


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.



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’)

Additional information

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

Include a heading that follows the existing heading hierarchy on the page. See below for examples.



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

For more information about [topic], you can:

Be consistent when listing contact details.

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

See the DTA content style guide for more.

Joan Smith
Adviser to Advisers
Learning and Business Systems
02 5550 0550
0405 555 555

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

See also Capital letters.

Further reading and resources

For more information, visit:

Need help?

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

How can we help?

For more information, contact:

Joan Smith
Adviser to advisers
02 5550 0550
0405 555 555

Bold, italics and underlining

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



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.

See also Unique cases for print only.

Capital letters

Keep capital letters to a minimum. 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



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

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 Primary School

Robert Jones, Principal, School Leadership

Toni Cheng, Director, Public Schools

John Brown, Web Adviser, Communication and Engagement

the principal, executive director, teacher, instructional adviser

the director, public schools; principal, school leadership (PSL)

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 lowercase 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 upper 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

Note the casing in these specific examples.

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

adult and community education (ACE)

Anzac (not ANZAC)

Australian curriculum (not Curriculum)


memorandum of understanding (not MOU)


My School (note: do not use italics)

non-government schools

OCHRE: opportunity, choice, healing, responsibility, empowerment

quality teaching model (not framework)

School Finder


state office

Publication and program titles


Use title case for the names of policies, procedures, programs (including awards programs), assessments 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

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

Elsa Dixon Aboriginal Employment Program

Futures Learning program

Intensive English Centre (IEC) or the centre

Intensive English High School (IEHS) or the high school

Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) program

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

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


Use upper case for English and other languages.

Use lower case for all other subjects.





creative arts





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)

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



(note: ‘preschool’ is always lower case)

Use upper case and a comma when referring to specific terms and semesters.

Term 2, 2016 or Semester 1, 2017

Website specifics


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)

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.

Copyright and terms of use

Any NSW Department of Education resources require a copyright statement. Use the following.

© State of New South Wales (Department of Education), 2017.

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) 2017.

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.

Dates and times



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.

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'.



noon (not midday or 12pm)

midnight (not 12am)

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.






Match your link text to the destination. 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.

Go to policies and procedures for more details.

For more information read the cyber safety section of the technology guide for parents.

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 notice (DOCX 89KB)

(note: KB is upper case)

See also Linking guide.

Hyphens and dashes



Several common words do not contain a hyphen.





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






videoconference, videoconferencing


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



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

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 and shift keys and type a hyphen.


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.

  1. To log in to Squiz Matrix to edit the website, add /_edit to the end of your URL.
  2. Select Enter to open the Edit+ interface screen.
  3. Follow the steps in the following how-to guides
    1. Add and edit content
    2. Move a page or other asset
    3. Delete a page or other asset.



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.

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

Greenville High School offers music lessons with the following instruments:

  • violin
  • cello
  • clarinet.

The inquiry came to two conclusions:

  • Students can only participate if they have written consent from their parents.
  • Parents 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 sub-heading that introduces a list.

Do not use a colon to introduce a standalone list, such as in presentation materials. 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 any other individual – without their permission. Find out more about permission to publish (PDF 383KB).

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. The only exception is for screen grabs used in instructional content, where the image purely serves as a visual representation of what the text describes. In this case, mark the image as decorative in your CMS. Learn more about image guidelines.

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

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

These rules also apply to charts, diagrams and graphs.

coast banksia
The coast banksia (Banksia integrifolia) grows along the East coast of Australia.
© Forest and Kim Starr CC-BY 3.0


Videos 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. Never use YouTube’s auto captioning.

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:

Heading in appropriate hierarchy

The following video ([X] mins) covers topics including XYZ.

[embed video with YouTube code]

Transcript of [Video title in sentence case] video

See also Copyright and citations.




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





Use roman numerals if part of the established name

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

Publication titles



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, poems, songs, videos, fact sheets, quick reference guides, procedure documents and form names.

This means only the first letter is capitalised.

Distance education enrolment procedures

Getting ready for school

Social media policy implementation procedures

You can’t always get what you want

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.

See also Capital letters.

Quotation marks



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.

Use double quotation marks for quotes within quotes.

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.’

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

Use a block quote for quotes longer than 30 words.

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

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.


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 schools locator.



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 ‘campus’.

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

Stages of learning

Try to avoid using stages of learning. If you know the students are in Year 1, say Year 1 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) two 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.



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 experiencing difficulty 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
Brown eyes0.5500.068.001
Brown hair0.0120.049.510
Example of a table (alternative) showing results
VariableCoefficient (SE)
Brown eyes0.550 (0.068) ***
SES0.414 (0.011) ***
Brown hair0.012 (0.049) 

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

Example of a table showing descriptive statistics
LocationNot metropolitan11231.73
Example of a table showing descriptive statistics
SESContinuous (standardised)01
Academic achievementContinuous (standardised)01

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.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Use instead of ‘Indigenous’ in relation to Aboriginal Australians. Refer to the DTA content style guide for more detail.

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

adviser: not advisor

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.


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


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.)


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


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

ezine: no hyphen


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


Great Teaching, Inspired Learning

Gigabytes: GB


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

homepage: one word


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: lowercase

iPad: follow Apple’s style for similar devices


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.)

Local Schools, Local Decisions

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


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...)


online: one word

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


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

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


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

sound bite: not sound byte

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

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

standalone: one word


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


URL: upper case (no need to spell out)


videoconference: one word



web page


web 2.0

world wide web

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



Xmas: don't use – use Christmas


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

Unique cases for news articles in print and online

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



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

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 Piccoli 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”.

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.


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.


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.


Use words for numbers under 10. Use numerals for 10 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 and 9 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.

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