Create an online publication - Vic Gov digital guide

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

We have published more than 20 publications using this template.

PDFs versus online stat.

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. 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 the publication landing page

Go to the Content tab, select Add content, then Publication.

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

  • Title*: don't add chapter numbers to the page titles as it impacts on SEO.
  • Hero image: you can add a hero image to both parent and child pages. Images should be resized to 1600 pixels wide x 600 pixels high. For instructions on adding a hero image, visit our hero banner page. At this stage, when you 'Print all' only the hero image on the parent page will print.
  • Hero image theme: if your hero image is mostly dark, apply the dark theme. If the image is mostly light, apply the light theme. This changes how the page title is displayed.
  • 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.
  • Introduction text: this can be a long description of the publication.
  • Summary*: this is a short description of the publication and is picked up within search engines.
  • Topic: for example, Business or Education.
  • Tag: 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.

Add Body content to the landing page

You can add the following as body content components:

  • Anchor links: check the box Show Table of Content? at the top of the Body content tab. You can display Heading 2s or both Heading 2s and Heading 3s
  • Accordion: allows you to add a list with heading and expandable sections
  • Complex image: allows you to add an image and accessible information
    • Title
    • Image
    • Source
    • Corresponding data
    • Label for view in full screen
    • Label for data/additional information
    • Label for download
  • Basic text


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.

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.

Create a new chapter 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.

Select the Children tab:

Select Create new Publication page.

Page Header tab

Click on the Page 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*
  • Introduction text
  • Summary*

Body Content tab

Select the Body Content tab to add Content Components to your publication. This can include components like Basic Text, Accordion, Image Gallery or Complex Image. For instructions on using these content components, visit our Body content components page. Instructions on Complex Image can be found below.

Add a complex image to your publication

When you're building out the content for your page, you have the option to add a complex image.

Click on Component type and select Complex Image.

Here you can complete the following fields:

  • Title: For example, Figure 3: Establishment activities
  • Image: Upload of the image to no larger than 818 px wide
  • Source: For example, The Orange Door 2018 evaluation
  • Corresponding data: Here you can include a detailed description of the content included in the infographic, table, chart or image.
  • You can also change the title fields which display the following options for an image:
    • view the image in full screen
    • show data or additional information
    • download the image

Example of fields for a complex image

Displays the fields to be completed when adding a complex image. Fields include Title, source, image, and labels to download, view the image in full screen or view more information about an image.

Create more chapters for your publication

To add more chapters to your publication, you'll need to search for the landing page of your publication in the Content search. For example, Department of Premier and Cabinet Corporate Plan, and select Edit.

Search for you publication landing page in the Content section of the Content Management System

Here you'll need to select the Children tab and Create a new Publication page.

To add a new chapter to your publication, select the Children tab

You can also use the icon/grabber beside each of your chapter titles to reorder your chapters. Once you're happy with the order, select Update child order.

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
Publication landing page including chapters, print option, download and navigation

Live example of a publication

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

Reviewed 30 November 2020

Vic Gov digital guide

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