Version 4.0

Content type
Corporate publication

June 2018


Each year AIFS publishes a substantial number of reports, newsletters and papers, as well as publishing material on social media daily. It is essential that all this material is produced in a way that makes it readable and accessible for its intended audience. An important aspect of this is ensuring that the writing and editing is of the highest standard and that all text is treated logically and consistently, both within individual works and across all our publications and communications. 

The AIFS Style Guide v. 4.0 is intended to provide guidance regarding the writing and editorial style we prefer and will be of use to authors, reviewers, editors, indexers and typesetters of our publications, as well as to communications staff. 

The Style Guide can be accessed below, or you can download a PDF from the sidebar. You will also find a quick reference guide in the sidebar, which is a handy two-page document containing our main stylistic preferences for text and includes a list of preferred spelling for words commonly used at AIFS. 

1. Introduction

1. Introduction


The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) publishes a substantial number of reports, newsletters and papers each year and it is essential that these publications are produced in a way that makes them readable and accessible for their intended audience. An important aspect of this is ensuring that the writing and editing is of the highest standard and that all text is treated logically and consistently, both within individual works and across all our publications.

This style guide is intended to provide guidance regarding the writing and editorial style we prefer.


This guide will be of use to authors, reviewers, editors, indexers and typesetters of our publications.


This guide is not meant to be a comprehensive style guide. It should be read in conjunction with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) (6th edition), the Australian Government's Style Manual (6th edition) and, for publications relating to legal issues, the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (3rd edition).

In general, we use APA style for our references and lists, but otherwise follow Australian Government style and use Australian spellings. This guide will provide more detailed information about this and indicate the points at which we diverge from this general rule, those rules that are particularly relevant to our work, and issues that commonly arise for AIFS writers and editors.

Consult this style guide first for points where our style differs from the other guides. For issues not covered here, consult the APA Publication Manual for references and lists and the Style Manual for the default usage.

For clarification on points not covered by any of the documentation, please contact AIFS Publishing(link is external)(link is external).

2. Preparing a manuscript

2. Preparing a manuscript

The publishing process

Our general publishing process is very broadly outlined below. Note that the exact process is more detailed and varies depending on the nature of the publication.

  1. An AIFS project manager completes a publication proposal and engages an author (who may be an external person or an AIFS staff member).
  2. The project manager advises the Communications Team of the proposed publication and works with them to create a publications plan (products, actions and schedules).
  3. The author prepares the manuscript, and submits it to the project manager.
  4. AIFS staff and, if relevant, the funding body, review the manuscript and (a) accept it for publication, with or without minor revisions; (b) accept it pending major revisions; or (c) reject it.
  5. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, the author incorporates suggested revisions, if any.
  6. If the manuscript is accepted pending major revisions, the author is requested to incorporate the suggested revisions and the revised manuscript is reviewed again.
  7. The AIFS Publishing Team edits the manuscript and directs any queries to the author or project manager. If there are any additional products (e.g. infographics or research summaries) to be created, these are created now.
  8. The Publishing Team lays out the manuscript and any ancillary products, and the author or project manager reviews.
  9. The publication goes through the final approval processes within the Institute and to external commissioning bodies (if any).
  10. AIFS staff brief the ministerial office and prepare media releases (if any).
  11. On an agreed date, the publication is released online, and in print if required.

Author's responsibilities

The author (or, where the author is an external person, the author together with the relevant AIFS project manager) is responsible for:

  • writing in a clear, unbiased manner, using active voice
  • following AIFS style (as outlined in this guide)
  • ensuring that the manuscript is complete when submitted for publication
  • responding to comments and suggested revisions following review of the manuscript
  • assigning copyright in the publication to the Institute when requested
  • proofreading the typeset and online versions of the publication as requested
  • granting approval of the final version of the typeset publication.

Writing style

We aim to disseminate family research and information as widely as possible. Our writing style must make our research easy to understand for the end user; for example, policy makers and service providers.


The intended audience for our publications includes: federal, state and local government policy makers; university staff and students; members of the legal profession; practitioners in family-related organisations; school teachers and students; media personnel; and individuals interested in keeping up to date with research and debate concerning families in Australia. The specific audience may vary depending on the type of publication; for example, CFCA Papers are aimed more at practitioners, while Research Papers are aimed more at policy makers and academics.

In any case, it should not be assumed that the reader will understand the terminology used in a particular field, and given the broad range of audiences we aim to reach, use of specialist jargon should be avoided. If difficult concepts or terms have to be included, they should be explained clearly.


Our tone of voice is an important part of our identity and helps us to achieve a consistent character across all our communications. Our tone of voice can be dialled up or down depending on the medium being used (e.g. a publication, social media, website) and the intended audience.

Be direct and inclusive

Write in an approachable manner and be direct, clear and informative. Avoid fancy words and jargon, and present complex ideas and evidence in a way that's easy to use and understand. Limit the use of tentative words such as possibly, hopefully or maybe, and use contractions (e.g. we're, don't) carefully to be more conversational.

Be active

Keep sentences short and punchy, and use active language and sentence structure, avoiding passive text. This helps people get our message quickly and makes our communications energised and authoritative.

For example:

The children played with the toys provided, without any prompting. [active]

The toys were played with by the children, without any prompting. [passive]

For more information about using AIFS tone see 'Appendix C: AIFS Tone of Voice in Detail'.

Plain English

The goal of plain English is to achieve clear and accessible communication through using everyday words and direct constructions. Plain English principles align with our tone and some of the main points to keep in mind include:

  • Use familiar, everyday words that readers will understand.
  • Be precise and avoid using unnecessary words that distract from the main point.
  • Vary sentence length but keep to an average of 22 words.
  • Use verbs in preference to constructions based on nouns derived from verbs (e.g. 'explain' rather than 'provide an explanation'; 'apply' rather than 'make an application').
  • Break up dense strings of nouns or nouns and modifiers (such as 'the outline development plan land package release conditions').
  • Use simple sentence frameworks and avoid convoluted constructions such as double negatives (e.g. 'not unlikely').

Inclusive language

You must not use language that discriminates on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, disability or other personal attributes. Political bias must also be avoided.

You should use gender inclusive language and should not use 'he' or 'she' when referring to individuals who could be of any gender. The use of 'they', even for a singular person, is better in this situation.

When referring to the original inhabitants of Australia you should use Indigenous with a capital 'I' (e.g. Indigenous Australians, Indigenous communities) or the full inclusive reference 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples'. If talking about a specific Aboriginal group/community, it would be better to use their own term for identifying themselves.

When referring to ethnic communities you should use the term most acceptable to that community and avoid using a colour descriptor for an ethnic group (e.g. African Americans rather than black Americans).

Publication types

Research reports

Length: 15-150+ pages

Sections: At the researcher's discretion, although all reports should have a table of contents and some form of executive summary at the start, and conclusion and references at the end. Be guided by the 'Research Report' MS Word template.

Research summaries

Length: 3-15 pages. 4 pages is ideal: anything from 1000-1500 words

If a summary has a 'parent' published research report then it should ideally not be longer than four pages because all the methodology and workings can be confined to the parent report and the research summary can focus on highlighting important results.

If a summary stands alone; that is, it is the only product of a small research project, then it may need to be longer.

Also use the 'Research Report' MS Word template.

Sections: (these are mandated)

Summary (~100 words)

Key points/messages (3-5 bullet points, ~20-40 words each)

Conclusion (~100 words

Citation of 'parent' research paper, if there is one. For example: 'This article presents some key findings from Strazdins, L., Baxter, J. A., and Li, J. (2017). Long hours and Longings ... '

Tone: Use Plain English. Be direct and to the point. State the major findings. Avoid discussing methodology unless absolutely necessary. Use minimal, if any, in-text citations. Make liberal use of pictures, graphs, feature quotes and data visualisation to illustrate the theme/findings and guide the reader.

Fact sheets

Length: 1-2 pages

These are highly visual and easily scanned. The text should be quick grabs and bullet point lists. Fact sheets are graphics intensive.

See also 'Appendix H: Examples of Publication Types'.

Parts of the manuscript

Structure and use of headings

The manuscript should be clearly and logically structured so that findings and conclusions can be easily understood.

Headings are particularly useful for helping to create a solid and logical structure in the document. They also help to break up text and provide readers with clues as to what is being discussed. (See the section on 'Text formatting and styling' for details about using Word heading styles.)

For the sake of clarity, keep headings short. Headings are designed to be signposts to the content, not summaries. For example, this heading:

Summary of the findings for mothers and their children from the HILDA survey against LSAC Waves 2 and 3

is too long and could be shortened to something like:

HILDA and LSAC findings for mothers and their children

Likewise, headings should be consistent with one another. If one heading is a statement, for example, and the rest are posed as questions, it is likely that they should be reworked to be consistent.

Tables and figures

We encourage the use of tables and figures to illuminate the text. Tables allow a great deal of data to be presented in a compact form, while figures provide readers with a visual representation of the data that can illustrate overall trends more clearly and is often more easily understood by a lay audience. However, tables and figures should not be left for the reader to interpret on their own. Within the text, the author should always refer to the table or figure and explain the salient features of the data, especially if more complex statistical analyses are involved. This does not mean merely repeat the information from the table/figure; the focus is on adding value by interpreting the data and pointing out where they indicate important findings.

See 'Formatting and layout of text, tables and figures'  for details on how to present tables and figures for publication.


Lists are very useful for breaking up text and making the items more readable and understandable. The default is to use bulleted rather than numbered lists.

Numbered lists

Numbered lists should only be used to indicate a hierarchy (where items are listed in order of importance), a sequence (such as the steps in a procedure) or categories that are to be referred to by number elsewhere in the text.

If using a numbered list the default is to use Arabic numerals with a full point (e.g. 1., 2., 3.).

If the list goes to a second level then lowercase Arabic letters should be used (e.g. a., b., c.). For example:

1.This is the first list item.

2.This is the second list item.

a.This is a sub-item of 2.

3.This is the third list item.

Run-in numbered lists should use lowercase letters in round brackets because (a) letters are easier to read than Roman numerals; (b) Roman numerals are complicated and error prone; and (c) if Arabic numerals were used, they could be confused with other numbers used in the discussion.

Bulleted lists

Even if using bulleted lists, the items should be placed in a logical order.

this list of household items:

  • chair
  • bear
  • table
  • doll
  • lamp.

is better ordered with items grouped by type:

  • chair
  • table
  • lamp
  • bear
  • doll.

If there is no obvious logical order, as shown above, then the list should be presented alphabetically.

All lists should also be 'parallel'; that is, each item in the list should use the same grammatical and logical structure. For example:

this is not parallel:

All practitioners should:

  • consult with their clients on a weekly basis
  • be holding meetings with their supervisors
  • reading the monthly newsletter.

but this is:

All practitioners should:

  • consult with their clients on a weekly basis
  • hold meetings with their supervisors
  • read the monthly newsletter.

Punctuation should be used in lists as follows:

  • If the list item is a full sentence, it should start with a capital letter and a full stop (see numbered list example above).
  • If the list item is a fragment of a sentence or a term, then it should have a lowercase letter to start and have no punctuation at the end. The second to last and last items on the list can be separated with an 'and' or 'or' appearing on a separate line with no bullet if necessary. (See bulleted list examples above.)
  • List items should be consistent - either all fragments or all full sentences.


Footnotes are useful for removing less significant information from the body of the text, such as details about a survey sample or methodology, or more information about a program. However, you should use them sparingly, given the nature of our readers and the difficulties of using footnotes/endnotes when viewing the report online.

We do not normally include citations to sources in footnotes, except when referring to websites that are not included in the reference list.

All our publications use footnotes.

You should incorporate footnotes and endnotes into Word documents using Word's automated footnote function in order to ensure that they are numbered consecutively and placed in order. Do not insert them manually.

Citations and references

Whenever you need to cite sources (such as books, articles, conference papers, etc.), a list of those sources, using APA style, must be included at the end of the manuscript, under the heading 'References'. All sources cited in the text should have a matching citation in the reference list; in turn, there should be no items in the reference list that are not mentioned in the text.

On rare occasions, you may wish to provide an extended list of readings that includes sources that are not cited in the text. In that case, the list should be called something other than 'References'. Suggested alternative titles are: 'Further reading', 'Bibliography' or 'Extended bibliography'. Alternatively, you may wish to include a separate list for further reading, in addition to the list of references.

See 'Appendix A: APA referencing style cheat sheet'  for more information about the APA referencing style.

Manuscript submission requirements

In order to assist with the reviewing and editorial process, submitted manuscripts should comply with the following requirements:

  • Submit the manuscript as a Word or RTF document, preferably in a version that can be opened with Word 2004 (Mac)/Word 2003 (Windows) or later.
  • Double-space the text to allow easier reviewing.
  • Number all pages sequentially. Apart from page numbers, it is not necessary (or particularly desirable) to include headers or footers.
  • Begin with a separate title page that includes the title of the piece; the name(s) of the author(s) in the exact format that is to appear in the final publication; the position and affiliation of each author; full contact details for the lead author; and any acknowledgements or disclaimers that must appear in the final publication.
  • For Family Matters, follow the title page with an abstract of approximately 200 words. This abstract may be used as the basis for briefings, media releases (if any) and summaries on our website; it will not appear in the final publication itself.
  • Also for Family Matters, after the abstract, include 4-10 keywords or phrases from the Family Thesaurus that describe the content of the manuscript.

Email all contracted and solicited submissions to the relevant project or clearinghouse manager. Send unsolicited manuscripts to AIFS Publishing via the AIFS submission form:

Text formatting and styling

You should keep manual text formatting to a minimum.

If you are an in-house author you can use the AIFS Report Template that has the styles already built in for you.

If you are an outside author, it is preferable for you to apply basic electronic styling to your manuscript (if you are familiar with styling), as this assists in both the writing and editing process. For example, it is best to use the inbuilt Word heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) to mark headings. The advantage of using these is that:

  • the heading levels will be consistently identified and formatted
  • the Outline feature (View > Outline) can then be used to see whether the structure of the headings is logical
  • styled headings can be used to automatically generate an accurate table of contents.

That said, the overuse of styles is counter-productive, as non-standard styles will simply be stripped out during the editing and typesetting process. You are therefore advised to use the built-in Word styles (e.g. Heading 1, 2 etc., List Bullet, Body Text, Caption) and to keep them to a minimum.

Important: If you would like sections of text to appear in a box in the final publication, please insert instructions at the beginning and end of the text to be boxed in angled brackets (e.g. <the following text is to be in a box>).

Do not manually format the text to appear in a box as this will not crossover into InDesign and will just be stripped out.

If you are not very familiar or comfortable with the use of electronic styles, it is preferable that they not use them at all. However, in all cases, you should make sure that levels of headings are clear and unambiguous, with level one headings being in a larger font size and lower level headings becoming progressively smaller.



In general, graphs will be redrawn by the AIFS Publishing Team for publication, so you do not need to spend too much time formatting them. It is, however, important that the author supply either the original raw data or a PDF.

You can supply the raw data for graphs in a number of ways:

  • provided in a separate Excel file (preferred)
  • embedded in a Word document using Word's Graph function (for relatively simple graphs and charts) 
  • included in the graph as labels (for simple graphs and charts).

If you are working with a program such as Stata or SPSS, you should generate suitable PDF versions of the graphs and supply these as separate files, as well as embedding them in the Word document at the required location. Likewise, if you are supplying raw data in Excel, you should generate the graph and embed it in the Word document, so that the figure can be matched correctly to its data and formatted as required (e.g. as a column or bar graph, with or without significance bars).


In general, illustrations need to be redrawn for publication. Authors often draw illustrations in Word using Word's drawing functions. In that case, care must be taken to ensure that the parts of the illustrations (boxes, lines, etc.) are grouped together and locked so that the illustration remains intact even if the text reflows (as can happen when opening a Word file on a different computer). Hand drawings are acceptable providing all labels are clearly readable.

If there is a professionally drawn version of the illustration available, you should provide that version, preferably in vector format (e.g. EPS or Illustrator [AI] formats). If only a bitmapped version is available, you should preferably provide it as a TIFF (although a maximum-quality JPEG is also acceptable) at 300 dpi at the desired size for reproduction.


Photographs should be well lit and in focus, preferably showing a close-up view of the desired subject. You should preferably provide photos as TIFFs (although maximum quality JPEGs are also acceptable) at 300 dpi at the desired size for reproduction.

Placement of tables and figures

You should insert tables and figures within the main text, usually immediately after the paragraph in which it is first discussed, rather than separately or at the end of the manuscript. Each table and figure must have a caption and be numbered sequentially. When referring to the table or figure in the text, avoid vague and locational phrases (e.g. 'in the table below', or 'see the figure above'); always refer to the relevant table or figure number instead (e.g. 'in Table 2' or 'see Figure 5').


All external authors are requested to assign their copyright in works prepared for AIFS publications to the Commonwealth of Australia. The copyright in materials prepared by staff as part of their employment at AIFS belongs to the Commonwealth.

See '4. Copyright'  or more information about copyright.

3. Editorial style

3. Editorial style

All our publications undergo structural and copy editing to reduce errors and ensure quality. Authors and editors should use the following section as a guide to help maintain consistency throughout the document.



When referring to past research, always use the past tense. For example:

Smith (2014) found that 75% of participants expressed a wish to continue with the survey.

If the findings of past research still apply more broadly, present tense can be used; for example:

The findings of Smith's (2014) study suggest that children do not …

When referring to the study that is the subject of the current paper or article, it is acceptable to use either present or past tense, depending on the context. For example:

In this study, we found that …

In Table 5, the data show that …

However, it is important to be consistent in how this is presented.

'Which' and 'that'

It is preferable to use 'which' and 'that' according to whether a clause is non-restrictive or restrictive respectively; they should not be used interchangeably as this can change the meaning of the sentence. For example:

Almost half of the respondents said they spent time with their children that was beneficial to their relationship. [This means that the respondents may have also spent time with their children that was not beneficial to their relationship.]

[compared to:]

Almost half of the respondents said they spent time with their children, which was beneficial to their relationship. [This means that the time the respondents spent with their children was generally beneficial to their relationship.]


Alice likes emeralds that are expensive. [Alice doesn't necessarily like inexpensive emeralds.]

[compared to:]

Alice likes emeralds, which are expensive. [All emeralds are expensive and Alice likes them.]

Split infinitives

It is acceptable in our style to split infinitives. For example:

To boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before. [split infinitive]

To go boldly where no man (or woman) has gone before. [infinitive not split]

Spelling and usage

In general, Australian spellings are used in all our publications. Usually the first cited spelling in the Macquarie Dictionary, 7th edition, is the preferred form. The major exception to this is the spelling of the names of organisations, which should always be spelt as the organisation spells it. A list of our preferred spellings is included in 'Appendix B: AIFS style sheet and word list'.

Names of organisations

Spell organisational names exactly as spelt by the organisation itself. Do not follow the Macquarie, which converts all organisation names to follow Australian spelling rules. International organisations in particular can cause confusion because some follow British spelling and others follow American spelling, while others still combine the two. Common examples include:

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

World Health Organization (WHO)


Title case

Title or maximal case is when all significant words have the first letter capitalised. Do not capitalise articles, short prepositions or conjunctions (e.g. 'a', 'the', 'to', 'as') unless they have four letters or more (e.g. 'from', 'toward', 'then') or occur at the beginning of the sentence/title. For example:

Women's Employment Transitions Around Child Bearing in Australia

An exception is:

Growing Up in Australia

In hyphenated words, the second part is in title case. For example:

Child-Friendly Workplaces in Australia

Use title case for:

  • book and journal article titles when cited in the text (but not in reference lists)
  • names of journals
  • names of conferences
  • names of programs, surveys, studies, projects etc.
  • names of organisations.
Sentence case

Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalised. For example:

Women's employment transitions around child bearing in Australia

Use sentence case for:

  • all headings
  • book titles, book article titles and journal article titles in reference lists and bibliographies.

Additional, specific examples of capitalisation are provided throughout this guide.


For names of conferences, use title case but do not italicise or use quote marks. If the conference has a named theme, this should be included at first mention, with the elements being separated by a colon. For example:

10th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference: Families Through Life

If the reference is to the title of published conference proceedings, then treat it as a publication and italicise the title.

Programs, surveys, studies and projects

For names of programs, surveys, studies and project, use title case with no italics or quote marks. The exception is Growing Up in Australia, which is italicised:

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

If the word 'study', 'survey', 'program', etc. is not part of the name, that word should be in lowercase. For example:

the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) study

Government terminology

When preparing parliamentary and other government documents, government agencies are required to use standard terminology, as specified in the document Common Parliamentary Workflow Language: Terms and Definitions: (for example, use 'ministerial submission', not 'ministerial minute'; and 'media release' not 'press release').

Formal vs informal names of inquiries

Government inquiries often have informal as well as formal names. At first mention, the full name of the inquiry should be identified, followed by the informal name in brackets, if relevant:

Commission of Inquiry Into Children in State Care (Mulligan inquiry)

Use title case for the full name of the inquiry but use lowercase for 'inquiry' or 'report' in the informal name. The informal name can be then be used for all further mentions in the text.

If a report is known by its shorter title (e.g. the Bringing Them Home report), italicise the short title for all instances.

Foreign words

Foreign words that are not listed in the Macquarie Dictionary should be italicised for all instances; those that are listed do not need to be italicised. For example, 'per se' and 'inter alia' are not italicised.

Plurals of Latin-based words

Treat plural Latin-based words such as 'data', 'criteria', 'phenomena' as plurals. For example:

The data show … [not 'The data shows …']

The criteria include … [not 'The criteria includes …']

Hyphenation and compound words

When a compound phrase (made up of two or more words) is used adjectivally, it is usually hyphenated. For example:

part-time employment

school-aged children

long-term appointment

evidence-based practice

However, when these same compound words are not used adjectivally, do not hyphenate. For example:

In evidence-based practice, practice is informed by the evidence base.

They have an appointment that is for the long term.

Do not use a hyphen when using comparative ('better', 'higher', 'more') or superlative ('best', 'highest', 'least') adverbs or adjectives, or when the first word is an adverb ending in '-ly'. For example:

least experienced staff

better known principle

partially fulfilled order

When an adjectival phrase contains four or more words or one or more prepositions,; for example, 'out-of-school-hours care', that it may be better to recast the phrase so that it does not require, or reduces, the need for hyphenation; for example: 'care that takes place out of school hours'.

Sentence punctuation

Commas, colons and semicolons

Use commas when listing items in text, when separating clauses or when it is necessary to express a short pause in a sentence. Commas must be used with care as they can change the meaning of a sentence or cause the reader to be confused if used incorrectly. Note: We do not use the Oxford comma in lists.

Semicolons are used to express a break in a sentence that is stronger than a comma but not as strong as a full stop. They are often used to link two closely related sentences/clauses that might otherwise lose their meaning if they were separated by a full stop. For example:

In some circumstances, breadwinning may be the most important role a father plays; in other contexts, this may be less important and direct care may be the most significant.

Semicolons are also often used before a clause beginning with 'for example', 'that is', 'therefore' or 'however'.

In Canada, paternity leave is unpaid; however, in Quebec, fathers are entitled to paid leave.

Colons are used to introduce a list of items, such as: first item, second item and third item.

En rules

Unspaced en rules (Option + - on a Mac; Alt + 0150 in Windows) are used to express a relationship between two words or phrases or a range of numbers. For example:



3-4 year olds

1998-99 [see section on 'Number spans']

Spaced en rules are used to express a relationship between two parts of a sentence or to express something parenthetically. For example:

In-kind transfers require the recipient to consume the amount of the good or service that is transferred in kind - no more or less - or alternatively to not accept the transfer.

Slashes (virgules)

Slashes are used to express the idea of 'or'; for example, 'and/or', 'parent/guardian'. Slashes shouldn't be overused when it is just as easy to use 'or'.

Do not use slashes to express the idea of a relationship between two words or phrases.

Do not include spaces on either side of a slash.


Do not use full stops for ellipses as these can break over a line and are typographically incorrect. There are keyboard shortcuts for typing ellipses: Opt + ; on a Mac and Alt + 0133 in Windows.

Use spaced ellipses; that is, there should be one space before and one space after the ellipsis.

If ellipses appear at the end of a sentence, do not add an additional full stop to the end:

In-kind transfers … require the recipient to consume the amount of the good or service that is transferred in kind … This is a common practice in many countries.

Quotation marks and quotations

Quotation marks

Always use single quotation marks ' ' for quotations that appear within the body of the text. Single quotation marks should also be used with words or phrases that are coined or invented expressions, express irony, are slang or are otherwise worthy of distinguishing. Do not use double quotation marks at all unless including a quotation within a quotation that appears within the body of the text. For example:

He said, 'Stop saying "Stop"!'

The neighbourhood was 'interesting'.


For long quotations (over about 30 words), it is preferable to set them apart from the text as a block quote. In these cases, do not use quotation marks around the quotation. Do include single quotation marks where necessary within a block quote.

Reference citations for block quotes always sit outside of the last punctuation mark in the quote and there is no full stop after the citation. For example:

The effects for those who were employed but not in agriculture were largely financial, with a negative and statistically significant impact upon household income and a higher likelihood of saying that the financial position of their household had become 'worse' over the last three years. (Gray & Edwards, 2008, p. 5)

Numbers, measurements and dates

Do not spell out numbers in times and percentages; for example, 5:30 pm, 50%. Otherwise, spell out numbers up to and including 9 and use digits for numbers of 10 or over. Numbers that occur at the start of a sentence should be spelt out, no matter what they are, although it is often better to recast the sentence to avoid this. For example:

Seventy-seven per cent of female respondents stated … [could be recast as:]

Among female respondents, 77% stated …

Numbers of four digits or more should always include a comma separating the thousands (e.g. 1,200 or 5,678,754).

When expressing a measurement (such as 1 km, 20 kg, 44 cm, 45 MB, etc.) always include a space between the number and measurement. It is preferable not to spell out the number or the measurement.

Abbreviations and acronyms for measurements should follow the International System of Units (SI) and accepted Australian practice. See the Style Manual, pp. 178-186, for detailed lists of SI and non-SI units commonly used in Australia.

Number spans

When expressing number spans, use numerals separated by en rules rather than spelling them out; for example, '19-21 years', rather than 'nineteen to twenty-one years' or '19 to 21 years'.

Do not use en rules when the number span is preceded by 'between' or 'from'; for example, 'between 30 and 45 minutes' or 'from 1945 to 1949'.

The second number in a number span should be truncated to the smallest number of digits that are essential for clarity; for example, '2007-08', not '2007-2008'. See Style Manual, 6th edition, p. 177, for further examples and exceptions to this general rule.

Do not truncate page numbers in references and citations (as this is APA style); for example, 'pp. 446-457', not 'pp. 446-57'.

Year spans

When expressing multiple year spans, use numerals separated by en rules. For example, 2016-17 indicates a period covering 2016 and 2017.

However, when denoting a financial year (a 12-month period from July to June), the financial year is shown as 2017/18.


Dates are expressed using Australian convention: [day], [date] [month] [year]. Shortened forms of the day and month are always restricted to three letters, with no full stop. If necessary for space reasons (e.g. in tables), years can be shortened to two digits, providing there is no chance that they can be mistaken for the wrong century. For example:

Friday, 23 February 2009

Fri, 23 Feb 09

23 February 2009

The following forms should be avoided:

23rd February

23rd February

23rd of February



February 23, 2009

The exception to this is dates that refer to specific, well-known events, such as 'September 11' or '9/11'.

Acronyms and abbreviations

Acronyms are letters used to represent a phrase or name of two or more words, usually comprising the first letter of each word in phrase or name. For example, United States = US, Attorney-General's Department = AGD. Acronyms do not use full stops.

Acronyms should be spelt out the first time they are used, followed by the acronym in brackets. The full phrase and the acronym can subsequently be used interchangeably:

In a study by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) … [first use]

According to the NHMRC … [subsequent uses]

Abbreviations are shortened versions of a word or phrase. For example, number = no., Doctor = Dr, company = co., limited = ltd, for example (exempli gratia) = e.g. Abbreviations that end with the same letter as the full word are not followed by a full stop (Dr, ltd), otherwise they must be followed by a full stop (no., co., e.g.). In particular, note that et al. (short for et alia) only has a full stop after 'al.' because 'et' is not an abbreviation.

See 'Appendix E: Common acronyms and abbreviations' for an extended list.

States and territories

Within text, acronyms are used for the ACT, NSW, NT, SA and WA. Abbreviations are used for Qld, Tas. and Vic. (note the full stops after Tas. and Vic.). It is not necessary to spell these out when they are first used.

Within postal addresses, always use uppercase with no full stops, as this is the preferred form recommended by Australia Post. When run on in one line, each address element should be separated from the next by a comma (except for: city/town STATE postcode). When split over several lines, there is no punctuation at the end of each line. For example:

Australian Institute of Family Studies, Level 4, 40 City Rd, Southbank VIC 3006

Australian Institute of Family Studies 
Level 4, 40 City Rd 
Southbank VIC 3006

Institute vs AIFS

The Australian Institute of Family Studies can be shortened to 'the Institute' or 'AIFS'. It is often preferable to use 'AIFS' to avoid confusion with other institutes, such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) or the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

Using 'the' with acronyms

When using abbreviations of organisations, precede the abbreviation with 'the' when it is read as individual letters rather than pronounced like a word; for example, DSS, AGD, OECD, AIHW, NHMRC take 'the' before them, while AIFS, LSAC, WHO, SNAICC do not.

'That is' and 'for example'

Only use the shortened forms for 'that is' (i.e.) and 'for example' (e.g.) within parentheses in the main text, and in tables, figures and other places where space is at a premium. Otherwise, spell these out.

When using 'i.e.' and 'e.g.', always use full stops after each letter. For example:

When abbreviating 'for example' (i.e., e.g.), use full stops (e.g. like this).

Formatting and layout of text, tables and figures


Italics should be used sparingly and only in instances as outlined in this style guide; that is:

  • for foreign words that aren't in the dictionary;
  • for emphasis; and
  • for titles of books and journals.

Do not use italics for names of programs, projects, etc. See 'Programs, surveys, studies and projects'.


Avoid using bold within the main text except for headings and run-in headings (see 'Lists' below). For example:

In-kind transfers are either the transfer of ownership of a good or asset other than cash, or the provision of a service.

Cash transfers are …


Lists can be run-in in the main text or the points can be separated into bullet lists or numbered lists.

Run-in lists should be introduced by a colon and each item separated by a comma if it is a simple list. If the list is more complicated, use semi-colons to separate the items (semi-colons must be used if there are internal commas). If the list items are lengthy or complicated, it may be easier to read if they are separated out into a bullet or numbered list.

Bullet lists are the most common lists. If the items are sentence fragments that follow on from the lead-in (introduced by a colon), no punctuation is needed at the end of each point. The second last point ends will be followed by 'and' or 'or' where necessary on a separate line, and the last item ends with a full stop. The initial letter of each item is lowercase. For example, there might be:

  • a sentence fragment
  • followed by another sentence fragment 
  • finished by a third.

If each item is a complete sentence, then insert a full stop at the end of each point and use sentence case. For example:

  • This is a complete sentence.
  • This is another complete sentence.
  • This is the last complete sentence.

Numbered lists should only be used when expressing a hierarchical list or steps in a process. It is also acceptable to use numbers if the items are referred to separately in the text (e.g. 'at question 5, participants were also asked …'). Prefer Arabic numerals over letters or roman numerals, unless required (e.g. for legal clauses).

Run-in numbered lists should use lowercase letters in round brackets because: (a) letters are easier to read than roman numerals; (b) roman numerals are complicated and error prone; and (c) if Arabic numerals were used, they could be confused with other numbers that might appear in the discussion.


Table captions

Captions for tables appear in the first row of the table. All table captions should be numbered sequentially and include a colon followed by a single tab after the table number. Do not include a full stop at the end.

Caption titles should be short and descriptive of the main focus of the data. If relevant, the date(s) and comparative variable(s) should also be included. For example:

Table 5:[tab]Proportion of mothers with children attending preschool, by child gender, 2014

Table notes

Notes, if any, follow immediately after the table. They should begin with 'Note:' (or 'Notes:' if there is more than one), followed by a single tab. Each note ends with a full stop and runs on from the previous one (i.e. do not use separate lines for each note).

Notes that relate to specific parts of a table should be indicated by superscripts: a, b, c etc. Do not use asterisks as these should only be used to show probabilities (e.g. * * p < .01). There should be a space between the data and superscript notes or asterisks (e.g. 95.6 a).

All tables where percentages should add to 100.0% but do not due to rounding should include the following note:

Note:[tab]Percentages may not total exactly 100.0% due to rounding.

Table source

Source(s), if any, appear below the notes, or if there are no notes, immediately after the table. They should begin with 'Source:' (or 'Sources:' if there is more than one source) followed by a single tab, but should not end with a full stop.

If the source is a cited reference, use APA style to cite the source. The full reference for the source should then appear in the reference list.

If the source is unpublished data, then cite the relevant survey or study and include the relevant year or wave number after a comma. Separate two or more sources with a semi-colon.

Table content

Minimal punctuation should be used in tables (e.g. no full stops should be used except for abbreviations).

Measures (e.g. % or $) should not be included in the individual data cells of a table. Rather, the measure should be indicated in the column heading or row, as applicable.

Example table layout
 Male (%)Female (%)
Before school a31 *70
After school5545

Notes:[tab]a This is a note. * p > .01. Percentages may not total exactly 100.0% due to rounding.

Sources:[tab]HILDA, 2005; LSAC, Wave 3; Smith (2007)


Captions, notes and sources for figures are treated in exactly the same way as for tables with the caption appearing above the figure, and notes (if any) and source (if any) below the figure. Figures are numbered sequentially, separately from table numbers. For example:

Figure 1:[tab]Time profile of relative equivalised household income by divorce status, by gender and country, 2014, again with no full stop


Note:[tab]This is a note, always ending with a full stop.

Source:[tab]Source, with no full stop

Citations and references

APA style

We use the APA's referencing style in all its publications. See 'Appendix A: APA referencing style cheat sheet' for examples of the most common types of citations and references, both in the text and in the reference list. More detail is available in the APA Publication Manual (6th edition).

Note that 'et al.' is not italicised and is not preceded by a comma. For example:

Hayes et al. (2000)

Exceptions to APA style

In the reference list, when the publisher is the same as the author, our style is to re-use the author's name as the publisher (rather than replace it with 'Author', which is APA style). It is acceptable in this case to use an acronym or abbreviation for the publisher's name, if the publisher is commonly known by that acronym (such as ABS, AIHW and AIFS). For example:

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2004). Disability, ageing and carers, Australia: Summary of findings, 2003 (Cat. No. 4430.0). Canberra: ABS. [not 'Canberra: Author' or 'Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics']

Productivity Commission. (2005). Economic implications of an aging society: Productivity Commission research report. Melbourne: Productivity Commission. [not 'Melbourne: Author' or 'Melbourne: PC']

For website addresses that appear in reference lists, follow our style (see 'Internet addresses' following for more details).

Internet addresses

Website and email addresses that are cited in the text and reference lists should not end in a full stop even if at the end of a sentence. For example, if a reference listing ends with a web address there would be no full stop. In text, try to rephrase the sentence to avoid ending the sentence with a web address. Website addresses (URLs) should not include the 'http://' or 'https://' at the beginning (if the URL has one). If the URL uses a different protocol from HTTP (such as FTP), then the protocol identifier should be included. For example:

For more information, visit the AIFS website: Alternatively, send an email to or go to to download a fact sheet.

Productivity Commission. (2005). Economic implications of an aging society: Productivity Commission research report. Melbourne: Productivity Commission. Retrieved from

When a URL is very long (more than about 100 characters), it is more useful for readers if the URL is a shorter version using a service such as Tiny URL to convert it. For example:

instead of:$file/Report+on+future+governance+of+federal+family+courts+in+Australia+-+November+2008.pdf

This should be done sparingly though, as the Tiny URL address does not give the reader any clues about what they will get when they select the link and there is no guarantee that the Tiny URL service will continue indefinitely.

Sort order

When sorting lists and references, sort items alphabetically, letter by letter, and numerically, by the whole number:

Brown, A. R. (2007) …

Brown, A. R. (2008) …

Brown, J. P. …

However, note that this rule applies per word, rather than running on all letters in the item:

Brown, J. P.

Browning, A. R.

Disregard grammatical articles ('the', 'a', 'an') that appear at the beginning of a list item:

The Age

Brown's cows

A country life

4. Copyright

4. Copyright

The copyright for all AIFS publications belongs to the Commonwealth of Australia.

Assignment of copyright

We require authors to assign copyright in their work to AIFS (representing the Commonwealth of Australia) before the work is published. Once manuscripts have been accepted for publication, authors are requested to visit the AIFS Copyright Conditions for Authors page and follow the instructions there to confirm their agreement to these copyright conditions.

In the rare instances where assignment of copyright is not possible (e.g. if the author works at a university that retains copyright), it is acceptable for the author to grant us, in writing, a non-exclusive perpetual licence to use the work.

Creative Commons and licensing AIFS materials

We make all our materials available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution International Licence (CC BY 4.0) meaning they may be copied, distributed and built upon for commercial and non-commercial purposes so long as the user attributes the Commonwealth of Australia as the copyright holder of the work. Users do not need to request permission from us to re-use its CC BY materials. The CC BY licence does not, however, necessarily apply to third-party content in our publications, such as stock photos.

Third-party content

Photos and other images that are reproduced in our publications must be obtained and used in accordance with Australian copyright laws and principles. In general, images are obtained from the following sources:

  • royalty-free images, usually purchased from stock photograph suppliers such as iStockphoto
  • public domain or Creative Commons images, such as those downloaded from the internet
  • images supplied by authors, provided they grant AIFS written permission to use them for the publication.

In general, it is preferable not to use Creative Commons images with a licence element of 'No derivatives' (ND) due to ambiguity surrounding the meaning of 'derivative'. All other licensing types are suitable for use, providing the source is acknowledged in the publication and web page in which they are used.

Stock photos are attributed by recording the stock source and creator (e.g. shutterstock/Sergey Novikov). Creative Commons image attributions should include the title (linked to the photo source), author (linked to their profile page, if any), source and licence type (e.g. "Dynamic", Martin Fisch, CC BY-SA 2.0). See the Creative Commons Best Practices for Attribution for more information.

For publications, the typeset version should include copyright and licensing information on the imprint page, in the format:

Cover image: © istockphoto/brady6

Photos: Front cover © istockphoto/knape. Page 2 "Framed" and Rodrigo Baptista CC BY-SA 2.0. Page 10 © istockphoto/PeopleImages.

In Family Matters, image sources are listed on the inside of the back cover.

5. Preparing material for the AIFS website and intranet

5. Preparing material for the AIFS website and intranet

Material uploaded to our websites includes:

  • HTML versions of all publications
  • PDFs of all publications, where applicable
  • EPUB versions of some publications
  • descriptions of AIFS projects and research areas
  • bibliographies
  • conference information
  • various resources such as statistical information and profiles and
  • media releases.

Our intranet includes information, forms, policies and procedures that are required for internal functioning.

All material uploaded to the website must conform with government accessibility requirements. Details of our accessibility policy are available on the AIFS website.



All our publications are uploaded to the website in HTML. To maintain consistency between the HTML and typeset (PDF) version, they should conform to our style recorded in this document as much as possible.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule to accommodate differences in format and accessibility requirements:

  • All smart (" curly ') quotes should be converted to straight quotes (" and ').
  • All en rules (-) should be converted to unspaced hyphens (x-x).
  • All spaced en rules ( - ) should be converted to spaced hyphens (x - x).
  • Heading levels may need to be adjusted so that H1 is the title of the publication, H2 is the chapter/section title and H3 is the first heading in the main text.
  • Figures and tables should be moved if possible so that they are placed immediately after the first reference to them in the text (it is often difficult to do so in the typeset version).
  • The first references to each table and figure should be hyperlinked to the relevant table or figure.
  • Cross-references to page numbers in the typeset publication should be deleted and direct links made instead from the name of the cross-reference (e.g. for 'see Appendix A (on page 43)', delete '(on page 43)' and create a link from 'Appendix A' to that appendix).
  • Links should be made from the relevant descriptive text rather than from the URL address; for example:

For more information, visit the Kids for Life web page at:

Note: For our Style Guide only, smart quotes and en dashes are used on the website, in order to avoid confusion when referring to these typographical practices.

Other content - Writing for web

A substantial proportion of our websites comprises pages that describe our work, provide information about events, or serve as additional resources for our audiences. As these pages are not tied to specific publications, the text can be treated differently in order to make the content easier to read onscreen.

Reading onscreen is physically more difficult than reading on paper (due to glare, screen resolution and other factors), and there are often more distractions on a web page than on a printed page. Readers of onscreen content often just scan the page, looking for the main points. It is therefore important to write in a way that helps the reader to easily digest the content. Some strategies include:

  • Structure the content so that information can be broken down or 'chunked' into short, logically ordered pieces.
  • Provide pointers to these chunks by using plenty of short, meaningful headings that are descriptive enough to give the reader an idea of what is to follow. Vague, 'cute' or lengthy headings are not suited to onscreen reading.
  • Start with the most important points (the so-called 'inverted pyramid' style commonly used by journalists). Try to answer who, what, when, where and why at the beginning, followed by the main details and then further background information. This ensures that even if the visitor only reads the first few paragraphs of the page, they will have covered the major aspects of the content.
  • Keep the content trimmed down to the minimum. Readers of onscreen content tend to have little patience for reading long, detailed paragraphs. They just want 'the facts'.
  • Use lists where possible to break down content as these are much easier to read and understand.
Appendix A: APA referencing style cheat sheet

Appendix A: APA referencing style cheat sheet

In-text citations

Author citations

First citation

A recent study (Surname1, Surname2, & Surname3 [up to five authors], year) showed that …

Surname1, Surname2, and Surname3 [up to five authors] (year) showed that …

Surname1 et al.[for six or more authors] (year) showed that …

Subsequent citations

Surname1 and Surname2 (year) showed that …

Surname1 et al.[for three or more authors] (year) showed that …

Title citations

Journal articles and chapters in an edited book

In an article titled 'Title of Article in Title Case: Subtitle (If Required) in Title Case', Smith wrote …

Books, reports, conference papers, unpublished theses

In a conference paper titled Title of Book/Report/Paper/Thesis in Title Case and Italics: Subtitle (If Required) in Title Case, Smith reported …

Reference list citations

Journal articles

Surname1, A. B., Surname2, A. B., & Surname3, A. B. (year). Title of article in sentence case: Subtitle of article in sentence case. Journal Name in Title Case, Vol.(No.), page-page.

Children and young people in separated families: Family law system experiences and needs

Marks, N. F., Lambert, J. D., & Choi, H. (2002). Transitions to caregiving, gender, and psychological well-being: A prospective US national study. Journal of Marriage and Family64 (3), 657-667.


Surname1, A. B., & Surname2, A. B. (Eds.). (year). Title of book in sentence case: Subtitle of book in sentence case. Place: Publisher.

Heady, B., Warren, D., & Harding, G. (2006). Families, incomes and jobs: A statistical report of the HILDA survey. Melbourne: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.  

Haas, L., Hwang, P., & Russell, G. (Eds.). (2000). Organizational change and gender equity. London: Sage.

Chapter in an edited book or report

Surname1, A. B., & Surname2, A. B. (year). Title of chapter in sentence case: Subtitle of chapter in sentence case. In A. B. Surname3, & A. B. Surname4 (Eds.), Title of book using sentence case: Subtitle of book using sentence case (pp. page-page). Place: Publisher.

Bittman, M. (2004). Parenting and employment: What time use surveys show. In N. Folbre, & M. Bittman (Eds.), Family time: The social organisation of care (pp. 69-89). London: Routledge.

Reports/monographs in series

These are reports that belong to a (usually) numbered series, but have individual titles.

Surname1, A. B., & Surname2, A. B. (year). Title of report using sentence case: Subtitle of report using sentence case (Report Name in Title Case No. Number). Place: Publisher.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2004). Disability, ageing and carers, Australia: Summary of findings, 2003 (Cat. No. 4430.0). Canberra: ABS.  

Weston, R., Qu, L., Parker, R., & Alexander, M. (2004). It's not for lack of wanting kids: A report on the Fertility Decision Making Project  (Research Report No. 11). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Conference papers

Surname1, A. B., & Surname2, A. B. (year, month). Title of paper using sentence case: Subtitle of paper using sentence case. Paper presented at the name of conference, location of conference.

McDonald, P., & Kippen, R. (2000, March). The implications of below replacement fertility for labour supply and international migration, 2000-2050.  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Los Angeles, California.

Unpublished dissertations and theses

Surname1, A. B. (year). Title of thesis using sentence case: Subtitle of thesis using sentence case. Unpublished doctoral dissertation/master's thesis, University name, University city.

Smith, J. F. (2005). A really interesting doctoral dissertation: Really, you should read this. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Nowhere, Nowhere.

Works available on the Internet

For both Internet only and print/Internet references, add the URL at the end of the citation:

Retrieved from URL

This is a changed practice from the APA; the date of retrieval is no longer required.

Productivity Commission. (2005). Economic implications of an aging society: Productivity Commission research report . Melbourne: Productivity Commission. Retrieved from


  • Sentence case is all in lowercase except for the first letter of the sentence and first letter of proper nouns. Title case uses uppercase for the first letter of all significant words (i.e. not short conjunctions, articles and prepositions), non-significant words that are four letters or longer (e.g. From) and both words in hyphenated compounds (e.g. Step-Parents).
  • In reference lists, always spell out the names of organisations (e.g. Australian Bureau of Statistics, not ABS), except when the publisher is the same as the author, in which case it is acceptable to use the shortened form (if there is one) for the publisher (not the author). For in-text citations, spell out the name in full at first mention, with the abbreviation in parentheses following, and use the abbreviation for subsequent mentions (both in the text and for in-text citations).
Appendix B: AIFS style sheet and word list

Appendix B: AIFS style sheet and word list


Use Australian spellings (-ise, flavour).

Use the first instance in Macquarie Dictionary (except for proper names, which should be spelt as the organisation spells it).

See 'Word list' for specific spellings.


Use sentence case (capitalise first letter and proper names only) for:

  • headings
  • titles of publications and articles in reference lists.

Use title case (capitalise all significant words and words of four or more letters) for:

  • titles of publications and articles cited in the text
  • names of programs, projects, conferences, etc.


Use unspaced en rule between numbers.

Use spaced en rule between clauses.

Use spaced ellipses.

There is no comma before 'and' (known as the Oxford comma) unless required for clarity, except when citing lists of authors (follow APA).


Use single quote marks for both quotes and coined expressions.

Use block quotes with no quote marks when the quote is more than about 30 words.

Only use double quote marks when quoting within a quote surrounded by single quotes marks.

Acronyms and abbreviations

Do not use full stops in acronyms (e.g. US, UK, DSS).

Use full stops in abbreviations when the last letter is not the same as the full word (e.g. for i.e. Vic., but not for ltd, Dr, Mr).

See also 'Appendix E: Common acronyms and abbreviations'.

Numbers, measurement and dates

Spell out numbers one to nine, except for statistical text and percentages.

Use '%' rather than 'per cent' except when spelling out at beginning of a sentence.

Add a comma in numbers of four digits or more (e.g. 3,000).

Use metric units of measurement.

The format for dates is: Wednesday, 26 January 2012.

The format for time is: 7:30 am.


Italicise titles of books and journals, foreign words, and when emphasising words.

Do not use italics for names of programs, projects, conferences.

In bulleted lists:

  • if each point is a sentence fragment, use no punctuation at the end of each point, and 'and' or 'or' on its own line without a bullet after the second last point where necessary
  • if each point is a full sentence, then use full stops at the end of each point.

Use numbered lists only for hierarchies, steps in a process, or items referred to in the text.

Captions appear above tables and figures.

Notes and data sources (in that order) appear immediately below both tables and figures.

  • For Internet addresses, remove 'http://' and have no full point at the end.

Word list



after-school-hours care


alcohol and other drugs (noun and adj.)

am & pm

among [not amongst]



Australian Government




birth mother


break-up [noun]


caregiver, caregiving






child care [noun & adj.]

child rearing








day care [noun & adj.]


decision makers

decision making

the department



et al.



family dispute resolution services

Family Relationship Centres

focused, focusing



health care professional

help desk [unless it's a name]



indices [except for SEIFA Indexes]

Indigenous (when referring to people)


inquiry [not enquiry]

the Institute






judgement [except in legal contexts: judgment]




legal aid [generic]

life course

life cycle, life-cycle stage


long day care centre






mid- to late 20s [number/capitalised words]

mid to late [other words]



non-English-speaking background (NESB)

no one



out-of-date [adj.]




per cent, percentage


pm & am

policy makers

policy making/maker



post-traumatic stress disorder

pre-literate, pre-numerate








shared care

shared care time

shared care-time arrangement





states and territories


step-children, step-father

subgroup, subpopulation etc.



time frame


time use study

trialled, trialling

two-thirds, three-quarters







Wave 2, second wave, 2nd wave



while [not whilst]



world view

World War II, WWII


Year 12

Appendix C: AIFS' tone of voice

Appendix C: AIFS' tone of voice

This explains how our communication should sound and how it should make our readers feel. It will help you to communicate our identity and values through the written language we use.

Written tone of voice is simply the 'personality' of our brand expressed through the written word.

Tone of voice governs what we say in writing, and how we say it - the content and style of textual communications, in any setting and in any medium.

Why tone of voice matters

Our tone of voice is just as important a part of our identity as our logo.

Managing our tone of voice in our writing is a key part of achieving a consistent character across all our communications, for internal and external audiences. Just as it is desirable to have a consistent look and feel in design across stationery, signage, advertising and our online presence, it makes sense that the content of all these media should feel like it is coming from the same source.

A consistent tone of voice helps our audiences recognise our organisation and be reassured about what they can expect from us.

Defining our tone of voice

We are direct, calm and understated. We are approachable experts - we present complex ideas and evidence in a way that's easy to use and understand.

We need to be clear and persuasive to connect. A few guiding principles can be very useful when you sit down to write or to brief a writer.


We try to write the way we speak. Fancy words and jargon don't help us to communicate clearly - in fact, they do just the opposite. So, tell it like it is. We aim to be approachable and talk in a way that's clear and informative. Be fearless by limiting the use of tentative words such as possibly, hopefully or maybe. Use contractions carefully to be more conversational (e.g. we're, we'll, you'll, don't).

To help remove the jargon from your writing, check out our list of Plain English preferred words on the Intranet.


Our communication must be inclusive and accessible. Our tone is approachable, direct and credible - we sound like people, not bureaucrats. Where possible, we use real stories and examples to help people understand the evidence and engage with our work.


We don't just talk about research results, we try to interpret what they mean in a real-world context. Our communications try to reflect this. Keep them short and punchy with active language and sentence structures, so people quickly get what we mean. This helps our communication to be energised and authoritative.

Our tone: what it isOur tone: what it isn't
Real worldIvory tower
Outward lookingSelf-absorbed

Use of Pronouns

Where possible, use first and second pronouns (I, we, us, you) to establish a connection with your audience.

Avoid third person nouns (Australian Institute of Family Studies, the Institute) and pronouns (he, she, it, they) when addressing the audience or talking about yourself.

Examples of pronouns

Like this:

Tell us if you have trouble with your account.

Not this:

If the subscriber is having difficulty accessing their account, the finance team can provide further guidance.

Like this:

We're pleased to be collaborating with our research partners ...

Not this:

The Institute is pleased to be undertaking the research in collaboration with its partners ...

Use 'they' and 'them' when talking about, rather than to, 'someone' or 'something'.

Like this:

Participants' wellbeing is very important to us. If the research raises any issues that cause them distress, they can ask us for support.

Active voice

Where possible, use the active voice (subject-verb-object). Active voice gets straight to the point and gives the reader a clear sense that we are taking ownership of our actions.

  • Use first and second person (we, us) instead of third person (he, she, it, they).
  • Avoid passive voice (object-verb-subject).
  • Passive voice usually makes it difficult to know who did what to whom and sends the reader backwards.

Example of using active voice

Like this:

The committee (subject) campaigned (verb) to lower diabetes (object).

We (subject) did not accept (verb) your application (object).

Not this:

The lowering of diabetes was campaigned for by the committee.

It was deemed your application was unsuccessful.

You can use passive voice if you can't specify the do-er of the action.


The part-time role was approved in March.

The medium matters

While our voice and personality stay constant, our tone may be dialed up or down according to the medium we're using.

We can be more human and conversational on social media than we can if we are writing a letter to a Minister of Parliament.

It is important to be aware of who you are writing for. What will they be using the information for? Where will they be reading it? What else is competing for their attention?

Two mediums to take note of for tone are our website and social media.

Web content

Web content needs to be written in a way that makes it easy for the reader to scan and find the information they're searching for. Write in short sentences and paragraphs. Break up text with subheadings, and create bullet points for lists.

Some strategies include:

  • Write web content with a Year 7 or 8 student in mind (between 12 and 14 years old).
  • Structure the content so that information can be broken down or 'chunked' into short, logically ordered pieces.
  • Provide pointers to these chunks by using plenty of short, meaningful headings that are descriptive enough to give the reader an idea of what is to follow. Vague, 'cute' or lengthy headings are not suited to onscreen reading.
  • Start with the most important points (the so-called 'inverted pyramid' style commonly used by journalists). Try to answer who, what, when, where and why at the beginning, followed by the main details and then further background information. This ensures that even if the visitor only reads the first few paragraphs of the page, they will have covered the major aspects of the content.
  • Keep the content trimmed down to the minimum. Readers of onscreen content tend to have little patience for reading long, detailed paragraphs. They just want 'the facts'.
  • Use lists where possible to break down content as these are much easier to read and understand.

Social media

Is designed to create interactions with our community of followers. On Facebook, being friendly and personable helps us to connect with people in an authentic way. On LinkedIn, we are a little more formal and professional in tone. On Twitter, being direct and brief helps get our message across in less than 280 characters.

Appendix D: Standard imprint page notice

Appendix D: Standard imprint page notice

All our publications are available for free use, distribution and re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution International Licence (CC BY 4.0), although the material always remains the copyright of the Commonwealth of Australia, represented by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The following information or similar variant should appear on the imprint page of all AIFS publications:

© Commonwealth of Australia [year]

With the exception of AIFS branding, the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, content provided by third parties, and any material protected by a trademark, all textual material presented in this publication is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0) is external)(link is external) You may copy, distribute and build upon this work for commercial and non-commercial purposes; however, you must attribute the Commonwealth of Australia as the copyright holder of the work. Content that is copyrighted by a third party is subject to the licensing arrangements of the original owner.

Views expressed in this publication are those of individual authors and may not reflect those of the Australian Government or the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Suggested citation:

Author1, A. B., & Author2, A. B. (year). Title: Subtitle (Series Title No. XX). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

ISBN 978-1-XXXXX-XXX-X (online)


ISSN XXXX (online)

ISSN XXXX (print)

Edited by XXX

Typeset by XXX

Printed by XXX

Cover image: © XXX

Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies 
Level 4, 40 City Road 
Southbank VIC 3006 Australia 
Phone: (03) 9214 7888 

Appendix E: Common acronyms and abbreviations

Appendix E: Common acronyms and abbreviations

Shortened formFull form
AASBAustralian Accounting Standards Board
ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ACSPRIAustralian Consortium for Social and Political Research Incorporated
ACSSAAustralian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault
ADFAustralian Defence Force
AF&SAAustralian Family & Society Abstracts
AFRCAustralian Family Relationships Clearinghouse
AGDAttorney-General's Department
AGRCAustralian Gambling Research Centre
AIFSAustralian Institute of Family Studies
AIHWAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare
ANAOAustralian National Audit Office
ANROWSAustralia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety
ANUAustralian National University
APSAustralian Public Service
ATPAustralian Temperament Project
AWAAustralian Workplace Agreement
BNLABuilding a New Life in Australia
CAFCACommunities and Families Clearinghouse Australia
CDDACompensation for Detriment Caused by Defective Administration, consult (Latin: confer)
CFCAChild Family Community Australia information exchange
COAGCouncil of Australian Governments
CSSCommonwealth Superannuation Scheme
DCBDepartmental Capital Budget
DETDepartment of Education and Training
DFATDepartment of Foreign Affairs and Trade
DHSDepartment of Human Services
DIBPDepartment of Immigration and Border Protection
DSSDepartment of Social Services
DVADepartment of Veterans' Affairs
e.g.for example (Latin: exempli gratia)
ELExecutive Level
et al.and others (Latin: et alia)
FaHCSIADepartment of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (now DSS)
FBTfringe benefits tax
FCCFederal Circuit Court of Australia
FCoAFamily Court of Australia
FMA ActFinancial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (replaced by PGPA)
FMCFederal Magistrates Court (now FCC)
FMOFinance Minister's Order
FRSFamily Relationship Services
GPPSGeneral Population of Parents of a Child Under 18 Years Survey
GSTgoods and services tax
HILDAHousehold, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia
ICLIndependent Children's Lawyers
i.e.that is (Latin: id est)
ILOInternational Labour Organization
IPSInformation Publication Scheme
KPIkey performance indicator
LSACGrowing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
LSICFootprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children
LSSFFamily Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families
MoUmemorandum of understanding
MPMember of Parliament
NCPCNational Child Protection Clearinghouse
NHMRCNational Health and Medical Research Council
OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OOHCout-of-home care
PBSPortfolio Budget Statements
PGPAPublic Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
PM&CDepartment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PPPPromising Practice Profiles
PSPFProtective Security Policy Framework
PSSPublic Sector Superannuation Scheme
RAACRisk Assessment and Audit Committee
SESSenior Executive Service
SFCSStronger Families and Communities Strategy
SFIAStronger Families in Australia
SPRCSocial Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
SRSPSurvey of Recently Separated Parents
VVFSVietnam Veterans Family Study
WHOWorld Health Organization
State/territoryAcronym in textAcronym in addresses
Australian Capital TerritoryACTACT
New South WalesNSWNSW
Northern TerritoryNTNT
South AustraliaSASA
Western AustraliaWAWA
Appendix F: ISBNs and ISSNs

Appendix F: ISBNs and ISSNs

Almost all publications of the Institute are published either as a serial (e.g. Family Matters, annual reports) or a monograph in series (e.g. Research Papers, Research Reports, information exchange papers). As such, they have each been assigned an International Standard Series Number (ISSN) (for online and/or print versions, as required) that is carried by them for the life of the series.

Serial/seriesISSN printISSN onlineStatus
AIFS Annual Report0819-2588 (was 7726-9870)2206-0936Current
Family Matters1030-26461832-8318Current
LSAC Annual Statistical Report1839-57671839-5775Current

Monographs, which each have an individual title, are each assigned an individual International Standard Book Number (ISBN). For example, Research Papers and CFCA Papers have a different ISBN for each title. The Publishing Team purchases blocks of ISBNs, assigns them to individual titles and maintains a list of assigned ISBNs.

Appendix G: Common character and symbol keyboard shortcuts

Appendix G: Common character and symbol keyboard shortcuts

CharacterSymbolMacWindows a
BulletOpt + 8Alt + 0149
Cent¢Opt + 4Alt + 0162
Chiχ[Symbol font] c / CAlt + 967 (lower) / 935 (upper)
Copyright©Opt + gAlt + 0169
DaggerOpt + tAlt + 0134
Degree°Shift + Opt + 8Alt + 0176
Double daggerShift + Opt + 7Alt + 0135
EllipsesOpt + ;Alt + 0133
En rule-Opt + -Alt + 0150
EuroShift + Opt + 2 (not in every font)Alt + 8364
Less than or equal toOpt + <Alt + 243
Middle dot·Shift + Opt + 9Alt + 0183
More than or equal toOpt + >Alt + 242
Multiplication sign×[use Character Viewer]Alt + 0215
Not equal toOpt + =Alt + 8800
Paragraph symbolOpt + 7Alt + 0182
Pound£Opt + 3Alt + 0163
Registered trademark®Opt + rAlt + 0174
Section symbol§Opt + 6Alt + 0167
SigmaOpt + wAlt + 228
TrademarkOpt + 2Alt + 0153
Acuteá, é, í, ó, úOpt + e followed by the letterCtrl + ' followed by the letter b
Circumflexâ, ê, î, ô, ûOpt + i followed by the letterCtrl + ^ followed by the letter b
Graveà, è, ì, ò, ùOpt + ` followed by the letterCtrl + ` followed by the letter b
Tildeã, ñ, õOpt + n followed by the letterCtrl + ~ followed by the letter b
Umlautä, ë, ï, ö, üOpt + u followed by the letterCtrl + : followed by the letter b

Notes: a Use the numbers on the keypad, not the numbers above the letter keys. b Shortcuts for Microsoft Office programs only. Access more information about typing special characters <>.

Appendix H: Examples of AIFS publication types

Appendix H: Examples of AIFS publication types

Research Report cover

An AIFS Research Report cover

Research Summary cover


Fact Sheet




Research Report (Word template)


The AIFS research report template is available via the MS Word templates options. Please ensure you use the styles included in the template.

Appendix I: Cheat sheet to main style changes, 2018

Appendix I: Cheat sheet to main style changes, 2018

New styleOld style

Figure captions go above the figure 

Figure 3.1: Population spread by gender, 2016

<graph goes here>

Notes: class="small"x

Source: xxxxxxx

Figure captions go underneath the figure 

<graph goes here>

Notes: class="small"x

Source: xxxxxxx

Figure 3.1: Population spread by gender, 2016

Lists with sentence fragments have no punctuation at the end of each list item, ending with a full stop. 

  • a sentence fragment
  • followed by another sentence fragment 
  • finished by a third.

Lists with sentence fragments have a semi-colon at the end of each list item, ending with a full stop. 

  • a sentence fragment;
  • followed by another sentence fragment; or
  • finished by a third.

Use spaced en rules to show a relationship between two parts of a sentence. 

The amount is transferred in kind - no more - or not transferred at all.

Use unspaced em rules to show a relationship between two parts of a sentence. 

The amount is transferred in kind - no more - or not transferred at all.

For year spans use unspaced en rule; for financial year use a slash. 

The period 2015-16.

The financial year 2015/16.

For year spans and financial year use unspaced en rule. 

The period 2015-16.

The financial year 2015-16.

When using e.g. and i.e. no punctuation is needed after 

(e.g. yellow and black)

When using e.g. and i.e. follow with a comma 

(e.g., yellow and black)

Use single quotes in first instance for quotations, followed by double quotes if necessary. 

He said 'I believe she was angry when she said "never again".'

Use double quotes in first instance for quotations, followed by single quotes if necessary. 

He said "I believe she was angry when she said 'never again'."

Web addresses have no punctuation at the end.

Web addresses have angled brackets around them 



Cover image: © iStock/solidcolours