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The Content style guide aims to keep government's digital content consistent, clear and readable.

It contains guidelines for all aspects of publishing content online.

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Then type in the search term you are looking for.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

You should use:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Aboriginal peoples
  • Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Aboriginal man/woman/child
  • Aboriginal Elder
  • First Australians.

Do not use:

  • Aboriginals, Aborigine
  • ATSI 
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Using the word Indigenous

Indigenous is a term when referring to a business or business function.

When referring to individuals, find an alternative from the list above where you can.

The term Indigenous may be used if you are quoting or referring to another source where the term Indigenous has been used.

Cultural terms

The following terms should be capitalised:

  • Indigenous
  • Indigenous communities
  • Traditional Owner
  • Elder
  • Sorry Business
  • Men's Business
  • Women's Business
  • On Country.


Avoid using acronyms if possible. They can make content difficult to read. 

After writing out in full, you can use a shortened version of a name instead of an acronym:

  • Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries - then ‘the department’
  • Automobile Association of the Northern Territory - then ‘the association’
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority - then ‘the authority’
  • Building Advisory Committee - then ‘the committee’
  • Business Tenancies (Fair Dealings) Act - then ‘the Act’, and so on.

When to use an acronym

You can use an acronym if it is well known to your audience and likely to be a search term for the page.

For example, GVM is an acceptable term for gross vehicle mass in the heavy vehicle industry.

In this case, write it in full and then refer to it by initials:

  • gross vehicle mass (GVM)
  • registered training organisation (RTO)
  • Motor Vehicle Registry (MVR)
  • Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH).

Refer to it by initials only for the rest of the page.

Don't introduce an acronym if you're not going to use it again on the page.

If you use an acronym be sure to use it for all other references on the page.

Don't include acronyms when naming pages. The exception is when the reader would be confused without one. Read more about naming pages.

Don’t use full stops - eg: use NT not N.T.

Northern Territory (NT)

You must write Northern Territory out in full at the first instance.

If it is referred to more than once on the page, use Northern Territory (NT) first then NT after that.

      More than 100 Aboriginal languages and dialects are spoken in the Northern Territory (NT). Aboriginal languages of the NT vary greatly…

     X  More than 100 Aboriginal languages and dialects are spoken in the NT. Aboriginal languages in the Northern Territory vary greatly…

Don’t use the NT acronym if it’s not mentioned again.


If an acronym is very well known you do not need to spell it out. For example:

  • GST
  • ATM
  • ABC.

Anzac is title case and not written out in full unless referring to the Corps specifically.


Don’t use spelling that is considered American or Americanisms:

  • you ‘fill in’ a form - not ‘fill out’ or ‘complete’
  • something is ‘free’ - not ‘for free’
  • colour not color
  • centre not center
  • organise not organize.

The exception is for names - eg: International Civil Aviation Organization.


Do not use an '&'. Use ‘and’ instead.


Use to shorten some words. Read more about contractions.

Do not use for decades - eg: 1980s not 1980’s.


Use apostrophes to show ownership:

  • Sarah’s coffee - the coffee belonging to Sarah
  • The Territory’s emblem - the emblem belonging to the Territory

Use the following format to show possession for words that end in ‘s’:

     ✔ Territorians' rights - the rights of all Territorians

     X Territorians's rights


Don't use an apostrophe to indicate a plural:

     ✔ All the departments were asked to rebrand their forms

     X  All the department’s were asked to rebrand their forms

The exception is to show the plural of lowercase letters:

      There are two m's in swimming

     X There are two ms in swimming


Avoid using brackets. Brackets make it harder for the user to skim the page.

            The coat of arms, also known as the crest, is symbolic of the people, history and landscape of the NT

            X  The coat of arms (the crest) is symbolic of the people, history and landscape of the NT

You can use square brackets to give more information inside a direct quote.

Don’t use brackets to show something could be singular or plural. The plural covers both:

      ✔ You will need to know what year the documents relate to

      X  You will need to know what year the document(s) relate to

      X  You will need to know what year the document/s relate to

Use brackets to define acronyms.

Example: The wheels spin at 300 revolutions per minute (RPM).

Bullet points

Bullet points can make text easier to read, especially long lists.

The lead sentence must make sense when read with each bullet point separately. It should end with a colon - the ':' symbol. 

Lists with two bullets

A bullet list with two points can make alternative choices easier to understand than if they were presented in a sentence.
You can use ‘or’ before the second item. For example:
The registration of a heavy vehicle can be cancelled by:

  • the registered owner
  • or an authorised agent acting on behalf of the registered owner.

Lists longer than two bullets

Long sentences that contain lists or many ideas can be broken down so they are easier to understand:

     X  You must not take fish from Doctor’s Gully, East Point aquatic life reserves in Darwin Harbour, Aboriginal sacred sites, aquaculture farm leases and sanctuary zones. These are protected areas. 

     ✔  You must not take fish from the following protected areas:

  • Doctor’s Gully
  • East Point aquatic life reserves in Darwin Harbour
  • Aboriginal sacred sites
  • aquaculture farm leases
  • sanctuary zones.

You should include the words ‘all of the following’ or ‘any of the following’ in the lead sentence if the meaning is not clear.
This is so the user is aware if they have to follow all of the bullet points or just one. For example:
Your emergency kit should include all of the following:

  • 10 litres of bottled water per person
  • non-perishable foods 
  • a can opener
  • a battery-operated radio with spare batteries... 

Using ‘all of the following’ shows the user they should include all these items in their kit.

Do not use sentences within a bullet point list. Separate new information with a spaced hyphen, not a dash. For example:
There are many examples of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings in the NT, including:

  • the former Reserve Bank in Darwin - now a visitor information centre
  • Admiralty House in Darwin - now a restaurant
  • Lyon’s Cottage in Darwin - now a retail outlet...

You can use a smaller bullet list within a larger one if needed. Keep it simple if you can.

A list within a list does not take a full stop unless ending a larger list.

Bullet list rules

When you’re writing a bullet point:

  • don’t use capital letters except for proper names
  • don't use semi-colons or commas to separate items 
  • use hyphens, not en or em dashes, to expand on an item
  • don’t use etc
  • avoid linking to other pages or websites
  • only use a full stop on the last item.

If bullet points are too long, try to rewrite them into sentences. 

Bullet list tense

Bullet points must be in the same tense as the introductory sentence. For example:

Before taking to the water you should do all of the following:

  • learn all of the boat laws in the NT 
  • learn the boat rules to operate your boat safely
  • read how to use the safety equipment on your boat
  • read the boating safety tips
  • consider installing a marine radio on your boat.

Capital letters

If in doubt, don't capitalise.

Don't capitalise:

  • government unless it's part of an official name - eg: Northern Territory Government, Local Government Association of the Northern Territory
  • public service
  • names of forms, application forms
  • minister, unless part of a specific job title - eg: Minister for Transport
  • department, unless using a full official name - eg: Department of Transport
  • white paper, green paper, discussion paper
  • budget papers
  • ministerial advisory council
  • air force, army or navy - unless the full title is used
  • species such as barramundi - except those with proper names, like Sturt’s desert rose, or Latin names for technical users.

Use capitals for:

  • Indigenous, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Traditional Owner(s)
  • brand names
  • Northern Territory Budget - use budget in later references
  • Buildings - eg: Parliament House, Charles Darwin Centre
  • Cabinet
  • Chief Minister, Speaker, Administrator, Treasurer, Treasury, Attorney-General
  • Constitution
  • Country Liberal Party, Labor, Independent
  • Dry Season and Wet Season
  • Hon for a person’s title of Honourable (no full stop)
  • job titles, but only where they are followed by the name of the person
  • ministerial titles - eg: Minister for Health, but don't capitalise 'the minister'
  • names of groups and directorates - eg: Northern Land Council
  • Parliament
  • place names
  • service and police ranks
  • the full name of departments, government agencies, funding bodies and other organisations - eg: Australian Council of Social Service (follow the organisation’s official material), but not the abbreviated name - eg: the council
  • titles of legislation - eg: Care and Protection of Children Act, the Act
  • titles of publications - a publication is a printed government document including white papers, strategy documents and reports
  • Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia
  • World War 1 and World War 2.


Contractions you can use include:

  • ‘can’t’ - not ‘cannot’
  • ‘don’t’ - not ‘do not’.

These can be used in headings - eg: ‘What you can’t apply for’ or ‘who can’t apply’.

Avoid using longer contractions like ‘would’ve’ or ‘shouldn’t’.

Dates and times

Format dates and times as follows:

  • 1 April 2015
  • tax year 2015 to 2016 - not 2015-2016
  • 5pm, not 1700hrs - only use 24-hour times for maritime references
  • 5.30pm, not 5:30 pm
  • midnight, not 00.00, 24.00 or 12am
  • 12 noon, not 12pm or midday
  • Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
  • 10 November to 21 December.


Government documents often contain crucial information for residents and businesses. Key information from documents should be rewritten into web pages.
Documents can be:

  • PDFs or Word documents - often called ‘information bulletins’ or ‘factsheets’
  • brochures - often produced for print
  • advertising posters.

Why web pages are better than documents

Information that lives in web pages is:

  • easier to find using search engines such as Google
  • better for viewing on a wide range of devices - eg: mobiles and tablets
  • follows web content accessibility guidelines - a requirement under the law. 

Rewriting documents into web pages

Rewriting key information into web pages means we can apply the new writing style.

This includes:

  • writing in plain English
  • writing in a consistent style
  • only using information the user needs
  • using subheadings to break the information up into text that can be scanned
  • using bullet points.

Accessibility under the law

Making content available on web pages makes the information more accessible to a wider range of people. This includes people with disabilities.

Under the law, we must make sure everything we publish is available in formats that can be accessed by everyone. This includes people using assistive technology such as screen readers. 

This means, where possible, web content should be published in HTML - web page format.

PDFs and accessibility

PDFs are not fully accessible in some browsers or for mobile and tablet users.

The best way to make a PDF accessible is to rewrite it into plain English on your web page.

When you can use a PDF

Some documents can’t be rewritten into web pages. These can be documents that:

  • are very long - as a guide we don’t try to rewrite documents over 30 pages
  • have an ISBN number - eg: an edition of a book
  • contain a lot of legal or technical language
  • have images, graphs or other visuals that help tell the story.

If you need to use a PDF

If you need to use a PDF, you must make the information available in another accessible format, such as a Word document.

If it is not possible to provide an alternative format, such as a detailed map, you must give contact details to allow users who can't access a PDF to get the information in another way.

You can use a PDF alone if it is a long report or reference document that would most likely be viewed from a desktop.

All PDFs must be made accessible. The link to them must show:

  • what it is - eg: the file name
  • its type - eg: PDF or Word
  • its file size.

Eg, etc and ie

Use eg, ‘for example’, 'such as' or 'like'. 

If you use eg, don't use full stops between the two letters.

Don’t use ie and etc.

Email, phone and mail addresses

Contact details should be presented in the following format:
Heritage Branch Grant Project Office
Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment
GPO Box 1680
Darwin NT 0801
Phone: (08) 8999 5039


Email addresses must be all lower case. Don't include any other words as part of the link.

     ✔ Contact the Heritage Branch's grant project office by emailing heritagegrants@nt.gov.au.

     ✔ For more information email the Heritage Branch at heritagegrants@nt.gov.au.

     X You should contact the Grant Project Officer Heritage Branch: heritagegrants@nt.gov.au.

     X Email: heritagegrants@nt.gov.au

     X HeritageGrants@NT.gov.au


Phone numbers on the web must include the (08) or other area code. 

When contact details are listed, ‘Phone:’ must be spelt out.

Ask the user to ‘call’ - not telephone, phone or ring.
      To find out more call the Heritage Branch on (08) 8999 5039
      Contact the Heritage Branch by calling (08) 8999 5039
     ✔ Phone: (08) 8999 5437 - when listed with other details
     X Telephone the Heritage branch: 8999 5039
     X Tel: 8999 5437
     X Ph: (08) 8999 5437


Write a mail address like the below example:

Department of Transport
PO Box 2520
Darwin NT 0801

Multiple contacts

If more than three sets of contacts are needed for a page, they should be arranged in a table.


If linking to a PDF form, in most cases you should also supply a Word document. Some documents can be rewritten into web pages. Read more about documents and links.

Send or submit

Use ‘submit your form’, not ‘send’.

Don’t use lodge, unless for legal actions.

Fill in a form

Use ‘fill in’ a form. Don’t use ‘fill out’ or ‘complete’.

Form names

The name you use for a form does not have to exactly match the official name. If it is long or complex, rewrite it in plain English.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Don’t use FAQs on NT.GOV.AU.

Using FAQs usually shows your content has not been written for the user.


  • tend to duplicate other content on the site
  • make it harder to find content
  • can clog up search results with competing text.

If you have frequently asked questions in your feedback, you should find a way to rewrite your content using logical headings.

Full stops

Do not use full stops:

  • in headings
  • in tables, except where there is more than one sentence in a cell
  • in bullet point lists, except for the last bullet point.

Make sure full stops are not included in linked text.

Geography and regions

Directions must be in lower case - eg: north of Alice Springs, south of Darwin.

For regions, the general rule is to use lower case - eg: Darwin’s rural area, Barkly region.

Note the following:

  • Top End
  • Central Australia
  • Red Centre.

Government, departments

Only capitalise the name of a government when using its official title.

     ✔ Northern Territory Government 

     ✔ NT Government - read more about using acronyms

     ✔ government

     X NT government or Territory Government

     X Government

Use Australian Government, not Federal or Commonwealth.

Federal Government departments should be referred to as 'Australian Government Department of xx':

  • Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
  • Australian Government Department of Transport.

When linking to Australian Government websites use the following style:

Headings and subheadings

Titles, headings and subheadings should include keywords or phrases people would use when searching for information.

Keep titles and headings short. They should:

  • be clear and concise
  • include keywords
  • not include technical terms, unless unavoidable
  • make sense to the user of that page
  • avoid jargon, program names and acronyms
  • avoid campaign names, initiatives and business units.

Subheadings break up paragraphs. They allow users to find what they’re looking for quickly.

You should use a subheading every six paragraphs where possible.

Always use sentence case except for proper nouns.

You can use colons to shorten long or complex titles. Avoid using brackets.

Read about naming pages and sub topics.


Hyphenate ‘re-’ words where there are two e’s - eg: re-evaluate.

Don't hyphenate:

  • reuse
  • cooperate
  • reorder
  • email
  • reopen
  • egovernment
  • coordinate
  • online.

Check the Macquarie Dictionary. If in doubt, don't use a hyphen.

Use a spaced hyphen to expand information in bullet point lists, not en or em dashes. 

Read more about bullet points.

Compound adjectives

A compound adjective is formed when two or more adjectives, descriptive words, are used to modify a noun.

     ✔ part-time worker
     ✔ three-year program

Hyphens are very important to compound adjectives. The meaning of a sentence can change without them.


  • I saw a man-eating crocodile (the crocodile has eaten a man)
  • I saw a man eating crocodile (the man is eating a crocodile).

Proper hyphenation makes sentences with compound adjectives easier to read:   

     ✔ The government signed a three-year deal
     X  The government signed a three year deal

     ✔ All-day parking is available at the ground
      All day parking is available at the ground

Hyphens are normally not needed when combining an adverb, many of which end in ‘ly’, with an adjective. The meaning is clear without a hyphen:

    ✔ internationally recognised expert
    ✔ rapidly rising floods


Only use images when they give useful context or information.

Images should not be used if they are stock images or just decorative. 

We don't use unnecessary images so the pages are quick to download. 

This is important for users who may have a slow internet connection or use the internet on their phones. 

All pictures should have:

  • good visual quality - they should not be pixelated
  • reasonable dimensions
  • their proper image proportions maintained.

You must also consider the file size of the image. Images can be resized using Microsoft Image Picture Manager, available on all Northern Territory Government computers, as well as other specialised software such as Photoshop.

File size guide for images:

  • small - 0 to 250kB
  • medium - 251kB to 1,000kB (1MB)
  • large - greater than 1MB.


For an example of how images should be used, see the list of function areas for the George Brown Botanic Gardens.

These images show the user the areas they can hire.

A close-up image of part of the garden would not be suitable.

Rules for accessibility

It is important that all audiences receive the same information.

Alt text is an alternative to an image for users who:

  • have a very slow connection and are browsing with images disabled
  • are vision impaired and use text-to-speech software
  • have cognitive impairment and use text-to-speech software
  • use a text-only browser
  • listen to the page being read out by a voice web browser
  • have images disabled to save on download costs.

Images, diagrams and charts need to be accompanied by full descriptions of what they depict that:

  • describe the image so the user can picture it
  • describe the key information.

Don't repeat text already used in the existing content.

Examples of images with alt text:

Example of braille label sign for a minibus taxi. The sign dimensions are 150mm wide and 40mm in height. The text ‘Minibus 123' is displayed to represent the minibus registration number and is printed above a braille label. Both text labels are 15mm in height.

Alt: Example of braille label sign for a minibus taxi. The sign dimensions are 150mm wide and 40mm in height. The text ‘Minibus 123' is displayed to represent the minibus registration number and is printed above a braille label. Both text labels are 15mm in height.

Image of a minibus taxi depicting the passenger front door and passenger sliding door. The passenger front door shows a yellow circle 2.5cm to the left of the door handle, this is the required area for a braille label. The passenger rear sliding door shows an orange circle 2.5cm underneath the door handle, this is also a required area for a braille label on a minibus taxi.

Alt: Image of a minibus taxi depicting the passenger front door and passenger sliding door. The passenger front door shows a yellow circle 2.5cm to the left of the door handle, this is the required area for a braille label. The passenger rear sliding door shows an orange circle 2.5cm underneath the door handle, this is also a required area for a braille label on a minibus taxi.


Be direct and to the point when instructing the user. Avoid longwinded lead-ins:

     ✔ Call (08) 8999 5437 and ask for the form.
     X You can obtain an application form by telephoning departmental staff on (08) 8999 5437.

When giving instructions the main action comes first:

     ✔ Submit the form at a customer service centre.
     X Visit a customer service centre to lodge your form.

If the user is required to do something, by law or as part of the administrative process, use ‘must’. If the action is recommended use ‘should’. Read more about legal language and legislation.

Instructions that are grouped together or form part of a process should be written as a step-by-step guide.


Don’t use italics. Italics make text harder to read on screen, particularly for people with learning difficulties. 

This includes legislation or Latin names.

When writing for technical users, if you need to use a scientific name, capitalise the first letter of the first word.

Put Latin names in brackets after the common name.

Legal language and legislation

Never quote directly from legislation when writing for the web.

Legal content should be written in plain English. Further details or direct links to legislation can be provided for technical users.

Linking to legislation for everyday users

If you need to refer to legislation, link to the NT Legislation Database or appropriate source as follows:

     ✔ It is against the law to do this in your workplace or when using goods, services and facilities. Read the law.
     X  It is against the law to do this in certain areas of life, such as your workplace, and when accessing goods, services and facilities. Go to the Anti-Discrimination Act to read more.

If you're talking about a legal requirement for users, write ‘must’:

     ✔ All people in the NT must make a report to the intake team or police if they believe a child under 18 has suffered harm.
     X Under the Care and Protection of Children Act, all people in the NT are required to report to the Department of Children and Families Central Intake Team or the police if they believe a child under 18 has suffered harm.

If 'must' doesn't have enough emphasis, use:

  • by law
  • legally entitled
  • legally responsible
  • legal requirement.

Linking to legislation for technical users

If a technical user may need to reference legislation you can link directly to the full name of the Act or regulations.

*         ✔ Aboriginal land is any area given back to Traditional Owners under the Aboriginal Land Act.


Links stand out. This can help the user skim quickly for what they need.

With good link text, users can quickly decide what they need to do by skimming.

Good link text makes sense on its own. It uses keywords to clearly describe the page that will load.

With bad link text, such as 'click here' or 'more', users can't decide what to do. They are forced to reread the content or click through, where they may be confused or lost.

General rules for links

Make link text active and specific. It must make sense when read on its own.

Do not use too many links on a page.

Full stops must not form part of the link. Make sure spaces before and after are not included in a link.

You must not link words in the first sentence of a page.

Avoid linking in bullet point lists.

Links to NT.GOV.AU pages

Use any of the following words to send the user to other pages in NT.GOV.AU: 

  • find out about
  • read about
  • read more about
  • for more information on.

Don’t use ‘go to’ to send users to other NT.GOV.AU pages.

External website links

Use ‘go to’ when instructing a user to visit an external website.

     ✔ For more information go to the commerce and industry section of the Australian Government's Business website.

     X  Visit the federal commerce and industry page for more information.
Don’t use: 

  • click here
  • visit
  • to see. 

Links from NT.GOV.AU to NT Government department sites

Treat links to NT Government department sites as external links:
      You can find the latest wholesale alcohol supply statistics on the Department of Business website.

Links from departments sites to NT.GOV.AU

Treat links from department sites to pages at NT.GOV.AU as external links:

     ✔ For more information about Crown land sales go to the Northern Territory Government website

Spell out 'Northern Territory Government website'.

Linking documents and forms on NT.GOV.AU

Write the names of the document or guide in plain English. Don't use the word 'application'.

Make sure document names are in lower case unless they contain official nouns. 

     For more information get the building and renovating in the NT consumer guide (2.6 mb).

     ✔ Fill in the public events and functions form (70.0 kb).

     X  Complete the By-Law 13A Public Events and Function Permit application form (70.0 kb).

Only upload NT Government-owned documents to the system.

Use ‘get’ or ‘read’ to instruct the user to download a document or form.

If your document is part of an application or administrative process, you should present the information as a step-by-step guide.

Linking to documents or forms on external websites

Don’t link directly to a document on another website - link to a page where the user can access the document.

Try not to link to specific pages. Send users to the home page and tell them where to find the document or content.

Linking when PDF and Word document versions are available

Links when PDF and Word versions are available should follow an introductory sentence.

The linked plain English document names should start with an upper case letter. The following link text should be lower case except for proper names.

Attach the PDF document first. The line spacing between the documents should be closed up. Do not use a full stop after the documents.

*          ✔  Get the question-and-answer guide to resolving construction disputes in the NT.

Resolving construction disputes in the NT (291.1 kb)
Resolving construction disputes in the NT (57.2 kb)

Read more about documents.


Use km for kilometre, kg for kilogram and g for gram.

When an abbreviation is used, there should be no space between the abbreviation and the figure.

The units tonne and litre should be spelt out.

If the measurement is more than one word - eg: kilometres per hour - spell it out first then abbreviate as below.

  • 10km
  • 10g
  • 10 tonne
  • 10 litres
  • 100 degrees - for angles and measures
  • 100°C
  • 100%
  • 100km
  • 100 square kilometres - sqkm if used again on that page
  • 100 square metres - sqm if used again on that page
  • 100 kilometres per hour - km/h if used again on that page.

Read about using numbers.


Always spell out million or billion - eg: $125 million.

Use the $ symbol. Don’t use decimals unless cents are included - eg: $80.50, $80 not $80.00.

Don’t use $0.xx million for amounts less than $1 million.

Write out cents in full - eg: mobile texts will cost 25 cents.

Use commas for amounts over 999 - eg: $1,000.

Naming pages and sub topics

Give your page the most logical and user-friendly name you can. 

Think about what words users would search for in Google.

If the user can complete a task on the page, include the main action in the page heading.

For example:

     ✔  Apply for a birth, death or marriage certificate

     ✔  Check your vehicle registration

If the page has information about how to complete a task, but they can't complete the action on the page, use the words 'how to'. 

Avoid using:

  • acronyms
  • government jargon
  • names of programs
  • business unit names.

For example:

     X  Fines Recovery Unit

     ✔  How to pay your fine

Read more about headings and subheadings.

Acronyms in page titles

Only use an acronym in a page title if you think the user will get lost without it. You must also use the full spelling. For example:

Find a Motor Vehicle Registry (MVR) office

Read about using acronyms.

Naming pages for your audience

The name of a page should reflect the audience it is for.

You should never name a page the same as another. You can use a colon to show different users. For example: 

Heritage properties: building works and development
Heritage properties: information for owners

The first example has information for building professionals about heritage properties.

The second has information for homeowners about heritage properties.

Northern Territory, Territory and NT

You must write Northern Territory out in full at the first instance.

If it is referred to more than once on the page, use Northern Territory (NT) first then NT after that. Avoid using 'Territory'. 

Read more about using acronyms.


Write the numbers one to nine as words and use numerals after that.

Spell out first to ninth, then use 10th.

Use 1 to 9 when you’re talking about a stepped process or in a table.

Use numerals if the number is related to a unit of measure. For example 1km.

Don’t start a sentence with a number. If a number really must start a sentence, write it out in full.

     ✔  Thirty students attended the interstate sports carnival.

     X  30 students attended the interstate sports carnival.

Use a comma for numbers over 999 - eg: 9,000.

Spell out common fractions such as three-quarters or two-thirds.

Use a % sign for percentages - eg: 50%, not fifty per cent.


Organisations are singular.

     ✔ The government has decided to sell its assets.

     X The government have decided to sell their assets.

Quote and speech marks

Avoid using single quote marks.

Don't use quote marks for a title or to link to a download.

Only use quote marks for direct quotations - eg: “This is how to write quotations,” she said.


Use the word 'to' to show any sort of range. Don't use a hyphen, slash or dash.

     ✔ 500 to 900
     X  500-900

     ✔ 9am to 5pm
     X  9-5

Related information

Use related information links to guide users to content that relates to the page they are on.

Don't use related links for external websites, including other government websites.

You should aim to put at least one related link on every page you write.

Use up to five related links.

Sentences and paragraphs

A paragraph should be made up of one sentence. This makes content easier to read.

It is difficult to scan blocks of text.

You should consider breaking up six or more paragraphs with a new subheading.


Use only one space after a full stop, not two.

Make sure the spaces before and after link text are not included in links.


Use the Macquarie Dictionary preferred spelling. This is the first entry used for a word.

Step-by-step guides

Step-by-step guides are useful to help the reader through a process.

There should be an introduction sentence with either a colon or the words 'follow these steps'.

Each step should:

  • be numbered
  • be a complete sentence or sentences
  • contain links to other pages or forms, if needed.

The name of a form should generally be repeated three times - once in the numbered step and then twice below as links to the PDF and Word versions of the document.

Short guides

You should use a short guide to help your user through a process with only a few steps and simple actions. For example:

To apply for an auctioneer licence follow these steps.

Step 1. Fill in the auctioneer licence form.

Auctioneer licence form (79.3 kb)
Auctioneer licence form (48.6 kb)

Step 2. Apply for a police check.
Step 3. Check the fees below.
Step 4. Submit your application and the fee at your local Territory Business Centre.

Long guides

Some guides may have more information for each step. Use separate headings without full stops for each step.

Legally change your name

To change your name, you will need to be over 18 years old and either:

  • a resident of the Northern Territory (NT) for more than three consecutive months
  • or born in the NT. 
How to change your name

If you are more than 18 years old and want to change your name, follow these steps.

Step 1. Fill in the form

Complete the change of name for adult form. 

Change of name for adult form (167.4 kb)
Change of name for adult form (82.9 kb)

Step 2. Sign the form with a witness

Sign the form in front of a witness over 18 years old. 

Step 3. Advertise your name change

Advertise your change of name in any of these NT newspapers:

  • NT News or The Sunday Territorian
  • The Centralian Advocate
  • Tennant Creek and District Times
  • Katherine Times
  • The Alice Springs News.
Step 4. Submit your documents

Submit your documents in person or by mail to a Births, Deaths and Marriages office.

You need to submit all of the following:

  • your completed application form
  • your newspaper advertisement showing the date it was advertised
  • proof of identity documents and evidence of any previous name changes - such as a change of name, marriage or birth certificate - making sure that any copies are certified by a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Oaths
  • a detailed reason why you are changing your name - statements like ‘I want to’ or ‘personal’ are not detailed enough
  • a marriage certificate if you are changing your name after getting married
  • payment for the change of name fee - check the fee
  • your previous birth certificate if you were born in the NT and you want your birth certificate to show your new name.


Tables are used for displaying data such as numbers. They should not be used to show large amounts of text.

Use numerals for all numbers referenced in a table. 

Full stops are not necessary unless there is more than one sentence in a cell.

Technical language

Avoid jargon, legal language, unexplained abbreviations or acronyms. Avoid Latin terms such as ad hoc, etc or et al. 

Technical and legal language can be rewritten in plain English. Consider the audience of the page before rewriting.

Use generic terms rather than bureaucratic or corporate names. Where jargon and acronyms must be used, make sure they are explained.

We and us

Don't use 'we' and 'us' as it can be confusing to the reader.

Read about using you.

Which and that

'That' is often overused and in many cases can be left out.

Bear in mind 'that' and 'which' are not interchangeable terms. 

Changing them can alter the meaning of a sentence. 

'That' is used to introduce restrictive clauses - information that is vital to the point of a sentence.

Restrictive clauses do not have commas around them. Non-restrictive clauses do.

For example:

     ✔ Our office that is on the fourth floor needs painting.

     ✔ Our office, which is on the fourth floor, needs painting.

In the first example, using 'that' suggests we have more than one office.

In the second example, using 'which' suggests we only have one office.


It's important to talk directly to the user. Using 'you' helps to instruct the user. Try to use 'you' in the first sentence or paragraph. 

If your page has information for two or more audiences, break the content up into subheadings for each audience.


‘Boat safety rules: recreational boat users’

‘Boat safety rules: commercial vessels’

On rare occasions - when the information is general or has several audiences - you will need to avoid using 'you'.

In this case you should clearly state who the page is for in the first sentence. 


      This page has information for parents, family members, school groups, government agencies and community groups who are concerned about a child or relative’s behaviour.

Last updated: 22 March 2018