cmlabs Official Writing Guideline for Australia Region

Written by cmlabs | Last updated at Jun 13, 2024

NO. 00282/PP/CID/VI/2024

1. Language Aspects

A. Dominant Dialects

  • Standard dialect: General Australian (e.g ‘capsicum’ for ‘pepper’)
  • Mostly use British English, but there are American English as well (for some vocabs, e.g Eggplant, BrE: Aubergine)
  • Influence from Aboriginal Language (for places, flora, fauna, e.g Kangaroo)
  • Have similar dialects to New Zealand.

B. Slang

  • Slang Glossary A-Z: https://www.vu.edu.au/sites/default/files/aussie-slang.pdf
  • Word use varies by area the most. In New South Wales, swimming suits are called cossies, or swimmers. In Queensland, they are called togs. Meanwhile, in Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, and South Australia, they are called bathers
  • Other examples of slang:
  • Arvo: afternoon
  • Barbie: barbecue
  • Smoko: cigarette break
  • Aussie: Australian
  • Straya: Australia
  • Some slang can also be found in news.
  • But, in a professional context, Australians do not prefer the use of slang.

C. Common Expressions

In informal verbal and written communication, Australians speak in slang expressions, such as:

  • It’s chockers in here: it’s crowded in here
  • Good on ya: well done

To see more: https://oxfordhousebcn.com/en/10-essential-australian-expressions/

D. Communication Styles

  • Direct: There's no need to read between the lines when people express what they intend.
  • Low Context: There should be no assumption of prior knowledge. In this case, the message must be made clear. 
  • Informal: When communicating, status or hierarchies are not relevant or taken into account.
  • Restrained: They rarely show emotion while communicating, but they do happen more frequently among Australians of Italian and Greek descent. 

Australian Blog Writing Guideline:

  • When selecting tools, always select English (AUS) as EN AUS occasionally comprises American, British, and Old English. 
  • Write in short paragraphs containing 1-3 sentences, so make sure to deliver the idea concisely. 
  • Deliver your content in the “inverted pyramid” method which starts with the most newsworthy information (5W+1H), important details supporting the ideas, and other additional information. 
  • Avoid using jargon while writing for the blog. 
  • Highlight some words if needed by using colour, bold, or italics. 
  • Ensure that you give original, clear, concise, readable, and understandable content to your audience.
  • It is improper to begin a statement in an informal or conversational style and then transition into a formal one in the next sentence.
  • In one sentence, do not address someone by his first name; instead, use his surname in the following phrase, and vice versa.

2. Technical Aspects

A. Grammar and Spelling

Australian English is a combination of British and American. Australian English most closely approaches British English in spelling. For example, EN AUS use "colour” and maintain the “u”. In addition, EN AUS use the “ise” approach like “realise” instead of “ize” like “realize”. 

Additionally, some American grammar is used in Australian English. Instead of saying "enquire," the term "inquire" is frequently used. EN AU also uses “program” instead of the British English term "programme". 

Australian English also follows American English grammar for collective nouns. For example, Australian English uses “the basketball team has won the match” instead of “the basketball team have won the match”.

However, Australian English has a different way of irregular past tense and past participles of verbs like ‘spell’ and ‘smell’, which become ‘spelt’ and ‘smelt’, respectively. Last but not least, when referring to numbers like 1,100, Australians are more likely to say "eleven hundred" than "one thousand and one hundred."

Writing Date and Times

Rules

Example(s)

Months and days start with an initial capital.

January

Monday

Abbreviate days when there is limited space, but make sure to define the month before shortening the days. 
  • Monday: ‘Mon’ or ‘M’
  • Tuesday: Tues’ or ‘Tu’
  • Wednesday: ‘Wed’ or ‘W’
  • Thursday: 'Thurs’ or ‘Th’
  • Friday: ‘Fri’ or ‘F’
  • Saturday: ‘Sat’ or ‘Sa’
  • Sunday: ‘Sun’ or ‘Su’.
Write full dates in the day-month-year order.

Do:

23 March 2024

Saturday 23 March 2024

Don’t:

March 23, 2024

Saturday, 23 March 2024

23rd March 2024

Don’t shorten dates in the text.The company will have an urgent meeting on Wednesday 3 April.
When the day or the year needs to be omitted, specify the month in words. About 300 visitors came to the site in November 2020.
Use an ordinal number if you are referring to a date but not the month. Don't add a suffix to the superscript. 

Do:

My flight is on the 23rd.

Don’t:

My flight is on the 23rd.

Write a numeric date in the DD/MM/YY format.23/03/2024
Write a numeric date in DD.MM.YY for computer systems and applications. 23.03.2024
Avert en dashes between years, except terms of office, financial year, calendar year, years of publications or programs, and years of birth and death.

Do:

From 2020 to 2023

Michael Jackson (1958–2005)

Don’t:

From 2020-2023

Write decades with an ‘s’ at the end.

Do:

2010s

Don’t:

2010’s

Use initial capitals for all institutional holidays, religious days and public events.

Labor Day

Christmas

When referring to significant historical periods and events, use beginning capitals, but not when shortening them to a general word.the Renaissance
For the whole name of a geological era or period, capitalise the first letter, but do not do so for general historical and cultural periods.

the Lower Jurassic period

the colonial era

Use lowercase letters for centuries. Unless there is a space constraint, write the names out. The superscripts "st," "nd," "rd," and "th" should not be used. 

Do:

The nineteenth century

The 19th century

Don’t:

The 19th century

Use lowercase for the seasons and recurrent seasonal events.I leave the house this winter.
Use a colon between the hours and minutes.4:30 am
Use lowercase letters "am" and "pm," and follow the number with a non-breaking space. Although two zeros are not necessary, they can be used to display the entire hour.4.30 am
Should it aid in the comprehension of your content, employ the 24-hour system.16:30
Add an “A” (Australian) in front of the Australian Times Zones if you believe it may be mistaken for a time zone in a different region of the world.

Australian Time Zones:

  • CST (Central Standard Time)
  • CDT (Central Daylight-saving Time)
  • EST (Eastern Standard Time)
  • EDT (Eastern Daylight-saving Time)
  • WST (Western Standard Time)

Adding “A”: ACST

Refrain from using "bi" to denote two or twice.

Do:

Every 2 weeks

Don’t:

Biweekly

For more information regarding how to write date and time in Australian English, read the guidelines by the Australian Government

Italics

Don’t use italics for:

  • large blocks of text
  • material that would normally be in italics but is set apart (such as a list of titles under a heading)
  • aggregation pages

Overuse of italics detracts from the readability, accessibility, and usefulness of the information.

Rules

Example(s)

Use italics for the titles of these published works:

  • Books and periodicals.
  • Plays.
  • Classics.
  • Most musical compositions.
  • Ballets and operas.
  • Films, videos and podcasts.
  • Blogs.
  • Television and radio programs.
  • Artworks.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was originally published in 1597. 
Reverse Italics: Certain words in titles are typically italicised. Put the words in Roman font to make sure they stand out from the rest of the italicised title. 

Gone on The Ghan and other great railway journeys of Australia.

The Ghan is the official name of a train; it would normally be italicised.

Laws and court cases should be italicised; bills or delegated laws should not.

The Franklin Dam Case is the informal title of Commonwealth v Tasmania (1983) 158 CLR 1. The case led to the World Heritage Properties Conservation Bill which became an Act in 1983. In 1999, the Act was replaced by parts of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The case name and the Act are italicised; the name for the bill, before enacted, is in Roman type.

Use italics for foreign words, but write ‘borrowed’ words without italics or accent marks.

The more things change, plus c’est la même.

Do:

She works as a barista. 

Don’t:

She works as a barista.

She works as a ‘barista’

Don’t italicise names or words from First Nations languages.


 

Do:

She catches a boomerang.

Don’t:

She catches a boomerang.

Don’t use italics for Latin shortened forms.

Do:

e.g. Eggplant is a healthy vegetable. 

Don’t:

e.g. Eggplant is a healthy vegetable. 

There are appropriate names for trains, aeroplanes, ships, and other vehicles occasionally. Without any definite articles, the name is italicised. The brand or type of vehicle is in Roman type.Until 1997, Queen Elizabeth II would use the Britannia to sail on official visits overseas. 
For the genus, species, and any subspecies, use italics; do not use italics for the common name.Certain strains of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus cause golden staph.

For more information regarding how to write italics in Australian English, read the guidelines by the Australian Government

Currency

  • The Australian currency is in dollars and cents.
  • Use the dollar symbol $ and the cent symbol ¢.
  • In the text, Australian dollars are identified as AUD.

3. Cultural Aspects

A. Cultural Sensitivities

Indigenous people, who are both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, live in Australia. Therefore, realising that there isn't a single, cohesive "Australian Indigenous culture" is crucial. 

In modern Australia, the labels "Indigenous," "Aboriginal," and "Torres Strait Islander" are often employed. It's crucial to remember that these names are a remnant of colonisation. In addition, note that the word "Aboriginal" applies only to the Aboriginal population of mainland Australia and may not include the other Indigenous population of Australia (the Torres Strait Islanders).

In general, both Australian First Nations people and the word "Indigenous" are used interchangeably. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are referred to as such nationally most frequently by the Commonwealth Government and in official situations.

The word "Indigenous" is disfavored by certain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because they believe it oversimplifies the variety of cultures it refers to in Australia. Therefore, don't use this word to describe a specific person. When feasible, it is recommended to refer to people as "First Nations" or “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.”

When speaking of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, no longer relevant words like "full-blood," "half-caste," "quarter-caste," and "quadroon" are exceedingly disrespectful and should never be used.

Not only that, it's advisable to stay away from acronyms such as ATSI, TI, TSI, and others that stand for "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander." Additionally, all three terms "Aboriginal," "Torres Strait Islander," and "Indigenous" should have their first letters capitalised.

Moreover, the terms "Aborigine," "Aborigines," or "Abos" should never be used. These very derogatory phrases are a reflection of the language from the assimilation and colonisation eras. Use the terms "Aboriginal" or "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" in their place. 

Equally important, it is unacceptable to make assumptions about someone's Aboriginal identification based only on their skin tone. For more information regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, read the guidelines by the Australian Government

In conclusion, if you want to create personalised content about Australia, make sure to follow the social and cultural values of this country. 

4. Prohibited Content

A. Hate speech and discriminatory content

In Australia, what constitutes hate speech is: when someone is victimised because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, national origin, colour, gender identity, religion, handicap, or status with HIV/AIDS. Different states of Australia have their policies regarding this. 

B. Illegal activities or content

  • What is considered illegal content in Australia:
  • Child pornography or child abuse
  • Content that shows extreme sexual violence or materials that are overly violent
  • Material that demonstrates, promotes, or incites crimes or violent acts; and
  • Content that promotes terrorism or encourages terrorist acts.
  • Class 1 Illegal and Restricted Content based on the National Classification Scheme:
  • Relates to, depicts, or handles in any other way topics related to sex, drug abuse or addiction, criminality, cruelty, violence, or other repulsive or disgusting phenomena in a way that violates the moral and appropriate standards that most reasonable adults would find acceptable to the point where they shouldn't be classified as that.  
  • Describes or portrays in a way that is likely to offend a reasonable adult, a person who is under the age of eighteen or who seems to be one (regardless of whether the person is having sex), or 
  • Encourages, provokes, or provides guidance on criminal or violent matters. 
  • Class 2 Illegal and Restricted Content based on the National Classification Scheme:
  • X18+ (or, in the case of publications, category 2 restricted), or  
  • R18+ (or, in the case of publications, category 1 restricted) under the National Classification Scheme, because it is considered inappropriate for general public access and/or for children and young people under 18 years old.  

C. Violent or graphic content

What is considered prohibited content in Australia:

  • ‘Refused Classification’ (RC): A classification category that applies to movies, video games, and books that are not allowed to be lawfully imported, hired, sold, or marketed in Australia. Content that is RC-classified is extremely impactful and deviates from widely acknowledged community norms.
  • The Australian Classification Board rates it as only suitable for viewers who are over the age of 18.

For example, prohibited content might include:

  • Resources that promote acts of violence, illegal activity, or risky behaviour (such as producing weapons, using drugs, or committing fraud or terrorism)
  • Extremely explicit sexual actions that might offend a responsible adult.
  • Information that depicts or describes suicide or self-harm
  • Footage depicting crimes or acts of violence, either genuine or fake.

5. Additional Information

Style Manual (The standard for Australian writing and editing): https://www.stylemanual.gov.au/

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