A style manual review for the Australian Government

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) asked us to do a whole-of-publication review of the draft Style Manual for the Australian Government.

The challenge

The DTA wanted to ensure that the manual’s content is findable, readable, credible and usable.

The DTA wanted to engage with external expertise to help them understand the positives and any potential improvements of their draft Style Manual.

There were 5 main criteria that they wanted to frame the high level review:

  • overall feel,
  • identifying gaps and errors,
  • words, tone and values,
  • structure,
  • keeping to Australian Public Service values.

How we solved it

Working to a tight timeframe, our team worked systematically through the Style Manual's 141 pages. We reviewed every page against each of the specified criteria and checked it for adhering to accessibility guidelines.

Our review process was guided by:

  • the Readability Guidelines,
  • the GDS style manual (for comparison),
  • the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines,
  • widely accepted usability best practice.

Our methodology was to look at patterns in the Style Manual and address these patterns, rather than look for individual examples.

After we completed the review of the draft Style Manual, we produced a report of our findings for the DTA. The report provided the DTA with a summary of our findings, and an overview of what was working well and suggestions for improvement.

The result

We asked the DTA about the outcomes that came from our expert review:

“We found working with the Content Design London team easy and constructive. They quickly grasped our brief and provided a fresh perspective on our work.

Most importantly, they provided clear, actionable recommendations that helped us improve the Style Manual. Their contribution gave us assurance that our content is findable, readable and usable.”

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