Rules on publishing documents and PDFs in HTML first

Website content should be HTML by default. There are a few exceptions for when Word or PDF documents are acceptable.

The Single Digital Presence (SDP) publications template should be used for HTML reports of 4 pages or more. If the publication is less than 4 pages, 1 or 2 content pages is sufficient.

The publications template is print-friendly (as are all pages on websites built using the SDP content management system) so PDFs are no longer needed as a requirement for printing.

The following content types must not be created as PDFs:

  • fact sheets
  • grant guidelines
  • video transcripts
  • forms - visit the Design forms digital guide for designing best-practise online forms
  • speeches
  • newsletters

Exceptions for not designing digital-first content

The exceptions to our HTML-first requirement are PDFs that were specifically design for print, including:

  • promotional posters
  • activity sheets

These PDFs should be fully accessible.

Where activity sheets or templates require the user to fill in extra information on a computer, use a Word document.

To create accessible documents, visit the Designing accessible Word and PDF documents page.

If the audience is a niche audience and user interviews indicate that print documents are preferred, an exception can be applied for with the Director of Digital Engagement. Content for the general public must always be published as HTML.

Migrating PDFs and Word documents

If a document already exists but is not accessible, we'll allow it to be published on an SDP site if it's an essential tool for someone to carry out their work or deal with government.

We won't publish it if: 

  • the content has inaccuracies (eg broken links)
  • there have been less than 50 views in a year
  • it is more than 5 years old and no longer has any relevance to the current policy and programs of government

If the PDF isn't essential, we will not migrate to the new site.

If the content owner wishes to keep the PDF it is their responsibility to create an HTML alternative.

Where it is an essential tool and the content owner doesn't have the time or resources to deliver an accessible alternative, then an agreed remediation/review date will be set in the system.

Reviewed 29 October 2020

Vic Gov digital guide

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