singledigitalpresence.vic.gov.au

Create an online publication

How to create an online publication using the Publications template.

Our Publications template allows you to create an accessible online publication.

It features:

  • chapters/sections as sub pages so your publication is easy to navigate
  • pagination between sections
  • print-friendly option for each page of the publication
  • automatic menu creation which lists each of the child pages

When to use the publications template

This template is ideal for:

  • multi-page documents that have traditionally been built in PDFs because there is a need to display data and tell stories
  • ongoing strategies where updates are being published (and the content needs to connect together)

This can include policy papers and frameworks, annual reports, strategies and research.

However, don't make the mistake of putting most of your web content into documents. 

Use the publications template if:

  1. Your content doesn't make sense split into separate pages.
    • Could a page of your content be used without interaction with other pages? Is the content unique and not content that will be tracked on a regular basis?
  2. Your content is for a point-in-time
    • The content in the publication isn't going to be useful for more than a year e.g. annual report.
  3. Users don't need to do something with it
    • If your audience needs to complete tasks and do something, for example guidelines, you should not use the publications template.

What works

Ministers and executives are increasingly asking for and expecting a digital first publication.

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing won IPAA 2021 Leadership in the Public Sector Communications Award for their 10-year Rolling Action Plan which used the SDP publications template.

Digital publications get more readers

We have published more than 20 publications using this template. Whether it's the publications template or a standard web page html versions always get more readers. 

Recent examples include:

Inclusive language guide

Only 13% of users accessed the download version.

DPC Corporate Plan 2019-2023

Only 7% of users printed the plan.

Family violence rolling action plan 2020 to 2023

Only 15% of users printed the plan.

Structure your content for the reader

Across a range of different content the following trends have emerged:

  • people will scroll until they find the information that's useful to them (for most people this varies from half of the page to 75%). This means writing in a news style (most to least important) rather than a narrative style (beginning, middle, end) is the best for the user. Actionable content should also be highlighted as close to the top of the page as possible
  • publications are often wordy. Use infographics or video where possible but if words are required users have responded positively to accordions in multiple rounds of user testing
  • most viewed content is about finding resources or support or what the government is doing, including tracking progress

Create a digital publication

You are able to outsource a digital publication in the same way you would outsource a PDF to a designer. We can provide training and access for external vendors for this purpose. For more information on this contact the Single Digital Presence team.

If you're also doing a PDF version, it must be provided in an accessible format also. Make sure your designer knows how to create an accessible PDF.

Watch the publication video

Create a new publication landing page

There are 2 ways to start creating a publication landing page:

  1. From your dashboard page, select '+ Add content'. Then choose 'Publication' from the next page.
  2. Go to the 'Content' tab, select 'Add content', then 'Publication'.

Complete the following fields as needed (items marked with an asterisk are mandatory).

    • Title*: title of your publication.
    • Summary*: this is a short description of the publication and is picked up within search engines.
    • Introduction text: brief summary that appears under the page title. Keep it short.
    • Featured image: feature images don't display on the page you're creating. They display on featured cards or navigation links to the page. They must be 496px high x 818px wide.
    • License Type: select from Copyright (if the publication cannot be shared or used in other work) or Creative Commons (if the publication can be shared or used in other work).
    • Date of publication: date the publication was released (it only displays month and year on live page).
    • Publication author: Department or branch that owns the publication; you can add more than 1 author.
    • Show table of contents: this will automatically build from the marked-up heading structure of your page. You can choose to display H2 headings or H2 and H3 headings.
    • Add component: this allows you to start adding content to the page. You can select from:
      • Accordion - add a list of headings that can be clicked on to show or hide content.
      • Complex image - display a complex image that users have the option to view in full screen, view in alternative format, or download. Find Complex image instructions.
      • Basic text - add text, headings, media and tables.
  • Header style* allows you to select between:

    • Default appearance - display the publication title and introduction text.
    • Full-width background image - display a hero image as well as the publication title and introduction text and. Follow our hero image instructions
    • Documents: here you can upload a PDF or Word version of your publication. This will appear on your publication landing page and all sub pages/sections.
    • Publication navigation: this inserts the publication navigation on the right hand side of the page.
    • Related links: you can add links to pages that might be relevant to your publication.
    • Contact: you can add specific contact details to the page.
    • Social sharing*: choose if you want social media sharing boxes to appear on the page.
    • Topic*: audience for the publication, for example, Students.
    • Show content rating: ticking this inserts a 'Was this page helpful?' feedback form. Do not uncheck this form without admin approval.
    • Department/agency*: the business you're from or who has commissioned the page.
    • Tags: audience for the publication, for example, Students.
    • Site*: where this publication lives.
    • Primary site*: the website design/branding you'd like to apply to your publication.

    Save now!

    Click Save once you're happy with your latest draft.

  • You'll need to save your publication landing page to be able to add the chapters for your publication.

    Once you've created and saved your landing page, you will see a 'Children' tab. This means you'll be able you can start adding child pages from your landing page. This is usually each chapter of your publication.

    1. Select the 'Children' tab
    2. Select 'Create new Publication page.'
  • Click on the 'Header' tab and add a title for the child page. The 'Publication/Parent page' should remain as the landing page for your publication.

    Complete the following fields if needed (items marked with an asterisk are mandatory):

    • Publication/parent page: this will default to the landing publication page*
    • Title*
    • Summary*
    • Introduction text
  • You have the option to add more components to chapter pages:

    • Show table of contents: this will automatically build from the marked-up heading structure of your page. You can choose to display H2 headings or H2 and H3 headings.
    • Accordion - add a list of headings that can be clicked on to show or hide content.
    • Complex image - display a complex image that users have the option to view in full screen, view in alternative format, or download. Find complex image instructions.
    • Basic text - add text, headings, media and tables.
    • Promotion card - add a narrow card that links to internal or external content.
    • Navigation card - add a wide card that links to internal or external content.
    • Key dates - add a clickable card that contains a collection of important dates.
    • Card carousel - feature 9 promotion cards in a scrollable carousel.
    • Form embed (Drupal) - embed a Drupal form.
    • Image gallery - embed a scrollable carousel of images.
    • Timelines - display short blocks of content in chronological order.
    • Data driven component - embed a map or other data to your page.
    • Data table - embed a complex table of data.
    • Compact card collection - create a grid of small clickable cards.
    • Call to action - add a large card or banner with a prominent button to prompt users to take action.
    • Featured news - display cards linking to 3 news items.
    • News listing - display a list of links to 6 recent news items based on a specific topic.
    • Latest events - display a grid of up to 6 cards linking to recent events.

    For instructions on using these content components, visit our Body text components page.

    Find instructions on adding a Complex image.

  • Header style* allows you to select between:

    • Default appearance - display the chapter title and introduction text.
    • Full-width background image - display a hero image as well as the publication title and introduction text and. Follow our hero image instructions
    • Publication navigation: this inserts the publication navigation on the right hand side of the page.
    • Related links: you can add links to pages that might be relevant to your publication.
    • Contact: you can add specific contact details to the page.
    • Social sharing*: choose if you want social media sharing boxes to appear on the page.
    • Show content rating: ticking this inserts a 'Was this page helpful?' feedback form. Do not uncheck this form without admin approval.
    • Department/agency*: the business you're from or who has commissioned the page.
    • Tags: audience for the publication, for example, Students.
    • Site*: where this publication lives.
    • Primary site*: the website design/branding you'd like to apply to your publication.

    Save now!

    Click Save once you're happy with your latest draft.

Making your publication live

You'll need to publish the landing page and each of your children pages.

Before you publish, double check the child page order is correct (it may have gotten mixed up as you added child pages). 

Once your publication is live, your landing page and children pages will include:

  • a navigation (menu) that includes each of the publication's chapters
  • download of the publication
  • 'Print full document' option that prints an HTML page with all sections merged onto one
  • if a child page is being viewed, pagination to the previous and next child page will display at the bottom of the screen

Live example of a publication

Visit our Department and Premier Corporate Plan page to see a live example of a publication. 

Reviewed 15 June 2021

Vic Gov digital guide

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