Writing standards and guidelines

Using plain and clear language helps your audience read, understand and use the information you are giving them.

Abbreviations, acronyms and symbols

Contemporary usage means that full stops are no longer necessary after abbreviations, acronyms or contractions.


Abbreviations are formed by omitting letters from the end of a word. Full stops and other punctuation marks are not used in most abbreviations but are still preferred in shortened Latin words:

Correct Incorrect
ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA for the states/territories of Australia Vic. Tas. W.A.
Assoc Prof Ass Prof, A/Prof, Ass/Prof, Assoc. Prof.
Cwlth C'wlth
etc etc,


Acronyms are formed from the initial letters of words (whether the result is pronounceable as a word or as a series of letters). Full stops are not necessary between initials.

Write the name in full first with the acronym in brackets after. The acronym can then be used in the content.

eg Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI)

CeRDI staff were honoured with an award...


Contractions are formed by omitting letters from the middle of a word. Full stops are not necessary.

Correct Incorrect
Cwlth C'wlth
Pty Ltd Pty. Ltd.
Dr Dr.


Do not use @ in place of 'at' unless it refers to a unit price or within an electronic address.

Avoid using ampersands (&) in body text (unless it is within a specific title name). Use 'and' instead.

Correct Incorrect
Students at Federation University Students @ Federation uni
Students and staff Students & staff

Campuses and locations


When referring to a specific campus a capital 'C' should be used. When referring to more than one campus, use the lower case 'c'.

Do not refer to campuses by their street names (with the exceptions of Camp Street and Gillies Street campuses).

Our campuses

  • Camp Street Campus
  • Berwick Campus
  • Brisbane Campus
  • Gillies Street Campus
  • Gippsland Campus (not Churchill)
  • Mt Helen Campus
  • SMB Campus
  • Wimmera Campus (not Horsham)

Areas our campuses are located

  • Ballarat (Mt Helen, SMB)
  • Gippsland
  • Wimmera

Federation University Australia

Correct Incorrect
Federation University Australia Fed (Can only be used as a graphic element, not in text)
Federation University FU, FUA
Federation (subsequent references) FedUni
Federation TAFE FedUni TAFE
#feduni (social media only)

Names and titles

Correct Incorrect
Associate Professor, Assoc ProfAssoc Prof Ass Prof, A/Prof, Ass/Prof, Assoc. Prof.
Vice-ChancellorVice Chancellor


To assist readability, headings need to follow a structured hierarchy, with a clear distinction between heading sizes. Headings should be descriptive so they provide the reader with a suggestion of what will follow, allowing scan-reading. Headings should be aligned to the left.

Our headings should be written in Sentence case - only the first word and proper nouns have initial capitals.

Headings should not:

  • be questions
  • end in a full stop or colon
  • be hyperlinks
  • be written in all capitals
Correct Incorrect
Federation Business School information session Federation Business School Information Session
Course fees and charges Course Fees and Charges


Formal titles and proper nouns should be written with a capital letter at the start of each word.

Terms often incorrectly capitalised: international, staff, students, bachelor's degree, higher education, lecturer, teacher

Correct Incorrect
We have many international students.We have many International Students.
Our students and staff have access to many facilities.Our Students and Staff have access to many facilities.
Only higher education students are eligible.Only Higher Education students are eligible.
He is a lecturer in mathematics.He is a Lecturer in Mathematics.
Our academic staff have profile pages on the web.Our Academic Staff have profile pages on the web.


Our style is to use minimal punctuation. That means removing unnecessary punctuation, as long as it doesn’t change your meaning.


Apostrophes indicate contractions or possessives.

Correct Incorrect
She's not in class today. Shes not in class today.
The library's opening hours have changed. The librarys opening hours have changed.

Apostrophes are not used to indicate plurals, except when abbreviations or letters are used as nouns.

Correct Incorrect
The library now has hundreds of new videos and DVDs available for loan. The library now has hundred's of new video's and DVD's available for loan.
I gave them four A's and six B's. I gave them four as and six bs.

Colons and semicolons

Colons are used after a statement that introduces a list, a quotation or an example.

Correct Incorrect
Federation has campuses in three regional areas: Ballarat, Gippsland, and the Wimmera. Federation has campuses in three regional areas, Ballarat, Gippsland and the Wimmera.

Semicolons link two related but independent clauses. Both halves of the sentence must make sense on their own. If they don’t, don’t use a semicolon.

Correct Incorrect
Summer is bushfire season; be very careful when using naked flames. Summer is bushfire season; hot and dry.

Semicolons are also used to separate items in a list if commas would make it confusing, for example, when one or more items in the list need their own commas for clarity.

Correct Incorrect
The prize winners were Selma Lee, Ballarat; Peter Campbell, Churchill; and Dac Nguyen, Berwick. The prize winners were Selma Lee, Ballarat, Peter Campbell, Churchill, and Dac Nguyen, Berwick.

Note that there is a semicolon before the last item in the list.


Commas are used to separate clauses in a sentence, or items within a list. Our style is to not use a comma before the final item of a list, unless it is needed for clarity.

Correct Incorrect
She took a photograph of her parents, the king, and the queen. [The photograph was of four people.] She took a photograph of her parents, the king and the queen. [The photograph was of two people: her parents who are also the king and queen.]

Hyphens and dashes

Hyphens, en dashes and em dashes all have different uses.

Hyphens are used to join two words that work together to make an adjective, or where a prefix makes a word confusing.

Correct Incorrect
We are all ready for a well-earned break. We are all ready for a well earned break.
Please tell us if you have any pre-existing injuries. Please tell us if you have any pre existing injuries.

En dashes (–) with a space on either side isolate an explanation or phrase within a sentence. Our style is to use spaced en dashes.

Correct Incorrect
The library – like all shared spaces – should be a comfortable and pleasant place for everyone to work in. The library - like all shared spaces - should be a comfortable and pleasant place for everyone to work in.

Em dashes (—) are used to signal an abrupt interruption. They are rarely used outside fiction writing.


Our style is to use single quotation marks (‘ ’), not double (“ ”). Use quotation marks for:

  • direct quotes
  • the titles of lectures, speeches, conferences and songs
  • the titles of chapters or articles in books or other publications (but not the publication title)
  • the first mention of an unfamiliar term, before you define it
  • words used in an unusual way, or colloquial terms.

For quotes within quotes, use double quotations marks.


Only one space is needed after full stops, commas, colons and semicolons.

Programs and courses

Academic degrees are lowercase when spelled out:

  • bachelor's degree
  • science degree
  • master's degree
  • doctoral degree
  • doctorate
    *Note the plural form: bachelor's degrees; master's degrees; doctoral degrees.

Capitalise Federation degrees when referring to them by their proper name:

  • Bachelor of Science

Names of majors, minors, concentrations, and programs are written in lowercase within text.


We use Australian spelling, which is often different to American or British. Some common examples are listed here, but if you are unsure check the Macquarie Dictionary.

Correct Incorrect
  • recognise
  • finalise
  • organise
  • recognize
  • finalize
  • organize
  • analyse
  • analyze
  • colour
  • labour
  • color
  • labor
  • centre
  • center
  • judgement
  • acknowledgement
  • judgment
  • acknowledgment

Use your spell-check.

Tip: You may need to set the language in Microsoft Word to English (Australian) to stop it automatically changing your words to US spelling.

If you are referring to a specific organisation or publication, or using a direct quote, always use the original spelling.

Correct Incorrect
World Health Organization World Health Organisation


In general, spell numbers up to nine and use numerals for numbers 10 and above. Exceptions to this include:

  • references to headings or expressions from elsewhere that use numerals, for example, ‘chapter 5’, ‘appendix 2’, ‘Year 12’, ‘semester 1’
  • text that is largely statistical or mathematical in nature, for example in a table, in which case the reader is aided by consistent use of numerals
  • numbers accompanied by symbols or measurements, for example, ‘8°C’, ‘3 km’, ‘10 am’
  • the beginning of sentences, where numbers should always be expressed in words.

Dates and times

Dates are written with no punctuation. Don't use 'th' or 'nd' etc after numbers.

Times are written with full stops, not colons, and a space before 'am' or 'pm'.

Correct Incorrect
22 October 2018 22nd October 2018, 22nd October 2018
22 Oct 2018October 22nd, 18
5.20 pm5.20PM
11 pm 

It is acceptable to abbreviate months and days to three characters
Eg Apr, Sep, Wed, Fri


To make them easier to read, telephone numbers should be broken into chunks. They should not break over two lines

Correct Incorrect
(03) 5327 9363 53279363

If content is directed at an international audience the format should be +613 5327 9363.


If the items in your list are complete sentences, start each one with a capital letter and finish each with a full stop.

Correct Incorrect

There are two distinct cultural protocols:

  • A Welcome to Country can only be made by an Aboriginal Traditional Owner of the country or land upon which the welcome is made.
  • An Acknowledgement of Country can be made by someone (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) who is not a Traditional Owner of the country or land upon which the statement is made.

There are two distinct cultural protocols:

  • a Welcome to Country can only be made by an Aboriginal Traditional Owner of the country or land upon which the welcome is made, and
  • an Acknowledgement of Country can be made by someone (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) who is not a Traditional Owner of the country or land upon which the statement is made

If the items in your list are not complete sentences, start each item with a lower-case letter. Don’t use commas or semicolons at the end of each item. Don’t use ‘and’ on the second-last item. Do use a full stop after the final item.

Correct Incorrect

The Welcome to Country always occurs at the start of an event. Such events include but are not limited to:

  • conferences
  • ceremonies
  • meetings
  • graduation ceremonies.

The Welcome to Country always occurs at the start of an event. Such events include but are not limited to

  • conferences,
  • ceremonies,
  • meetings, and
  • graduation ceremonies

All items in a list must follow the same grammatical structure. You can check this by reading the introductory phrase and then each item to see if it makes sense.

Correct Incorrect

Successful students:

  • are motivated
  • are organised
  • study hard.

Successful students are:

  • motivated
  • organised
  • study hard.


Images can add to the visual appeal of a web page. However, images also add to the size (and hence load time) of a page and can push valuable content out of sight for readers. If used they should be sharp and of good quality. To ensure a professional appearance clip art images should not be used.

Text within graphics (such as a diagram or graphically presented table) is not indexed by the site's search engine and hence will not be found through a site search. Good practice is to use images that contain no text; consider that the person viewing the web page may be using a mobile device so will be unable to read the text on a small screen.

Recommended sizes

Images should be resized to the appropriate dimensions before being brought into the CMS.

  • Banner images (top of the page): 713 x 230 px. File size should be less than 100kb
  • Content area images: 290 x 210 px
  • Research centre banner images: 780 x 250 px. File size should be less than 100kb

Types of image


If the image presents information to the site visitor that is not available anywhere else on the page it is considered to be informative and must have appropriate HTML 'alt text' that adequately conveys the purpose and function of the image. We must consider whether the person accessing the page is missing out on information if they cannot see the image, and provide an alternative means of conveying the message.


Images that do not present any new information to the site visitor, and whose only function is to add visual appeal to the page are considered to be decorative. Decorative images do not require 'alt text'. They should be aligned to the right of the page.


Images of art work and sculptures are examples of sensory images. HTML 'alt text' must be provided which describes the item, names the creator/artist and year of creation.