New Style Manual makes leap to digital

Ethos CRS

The new live version of the Australian Government Style Manual helps writers and editors make the leap from print to digital publishing. It was released today.

Chief Executive Officer of Ethos CRS, Chas Savage, said “The transformation of writing, editing and publishing over the past few decades is the greatest since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440.

“Yet the user manuals for writers and editors have struggled to keep up with the changes. The new edition of the Style Manual makes the leap.”

The Ethos CRS team of writers and editors and the Digital Transformation Agency co-authored the manual for the digital age, Mr Savage said.

The previous edition published in 2002 was a 550-page print edition. It gave some advice on writing for the internet as if it was a minor variation on an old theme.

“The new edition is written with digital publishing foremost – while still covering the needs of print,” Mr Savage said.

“The most obvious change is the way the manual is published – as a digital product. Just as important, the advice has been completely rewritten to reflect the needs and practices of publishing in the digital age.

“People read and use digital content in different ways from print. The most common way of reading now is on the tiny screens of smartphones” he said. “Their attention span is shorter and there is vastly more competition for their interest.

“Now, most people seek information about government services and policy online. Information and communications technology have profoundly changed almost all aspects of society, including the way governments operate, deliver services, communicate, and create, store and share information.”

The new edition gives advice on:

  • writing content that is easy to understand
  • researching user needs
  • getting best results from search engines
  • creating content for social media
  • writing blogs.

The new edition also reflects social changes over the past 18 years. There is new advice on:

  • using inclusive language
  • respecting the increasing diversity of Australian society.

Because it is available online to anyone, the new Style Manual has a big advantage over the previous edition. As it’s a website rather than a book, it is dynamic. It will be updated regularly to reflect changes in advice and practice.

“The Style Manual is written first for those writing and editing information published by the Australian Government,” Mr Savage said.

“But we expect it will again become the definitive guide on writing style across Australia.”

“An authoritative style manual will make the work of government more efficient and government documents more accessible for a very diverse readership.”

/Public Release.