Spelling and punctuation quick guide - Vic Gov digital guide

This page contains common errors and questions of spelling and punctuation.

Follow the Australian Government's GOV.AU Content Guide. It has useful guidance on:

Use the Macquarie Dictionary for spelling, hyphenation and capitalisation. 

Since the release of the Australian Government Style Manual, we have more guidance on formatting and style issues:

  • Format, writing and structure (includes Content formats, Clear language and writing style, Inclusive language, Structure, Findable content)
  • Style rules and conventions (includes Editing and proofreading, Names and terms, Numbers and measurements, Punctuation marks, Titles and forms of address)
  • The VGLS provides a Macquarie Dictionary online subscription to all DPC employees.

    To access the subscription, you first need to register for a VGLS account.

    1. Go to the Victorian Government Library Service website and click on the DPC link.
    2. Click Register/My account in the top right and fill out the form. You'll receive a confirmation email with your numerical username.
    3. Once you've logged in, click to go to the DPC Gateway.
    4. In the centre of the page, you'll see a heading 'Key Resource Links'.
    5. Click the dropdown and select Macquarie Dictionary and click the Go button.
    6. After you're taken to the Macquarie site, bookmark this URL!

    It's useful to have the 'Did you mean' checkbox ticked as search results are wider.


Use sentence case in headings (a capital letter on the first word only, unless later words are proper nouns) but title case for legislation.

Avoid using ALL CAPS as it's bad for accessibility.


Avoid using italics. Use title case for acts (legislation) and other publications.

Lists (bullets)

No end punctuation on bullets that are fragments - not even the last item.

List items that are full sentences should have sentence punctuation.

The Style Manual still includes a full stop at the end of the last list item, but we are following the GOV.AU content guide.


Use numerals (NOT words) for numbers in text (most of the time) because it's easier to read on a screen.

  • Exceptions:
    • Always use words for one and zero as the numerals 0 and 1 may be confused for letters.
    • Don't use a numeral at the start of a sentence; first, second, third.
  • Examples: 19th century; one or two of them; 1.5 million; a quarter; 1,234,567. 

No space between a number and abbreviated units of measurement (eg 100km, 10cm)

Times: 2pm, 2:30pm, 12 noon, 12 midnight

No punctuation in dates; dates should be ordered day, month, year (eg Monday 1 January 2020)

Phone numbers: 03 9600 1234 (hyperlink using the code "tel:0396001234" with no spaces)


Single quotes (NOT double quotes)

Textual dashes: use a spaced en dash ( – ), HTML code is – (NOT a hyphen)

Dashes can affect readability when used in a span. In general text, it's beter to use phrases

Spaced ellipses ( ... )

Don't use ampersand in sentences unless part of an organisation's name. Limit their use in headings etc.


Check any spelling you are unsure of with the Macquarie Dictionary.  

Here are some commonly misspelled words/terms:




child care

decision-making (n & adj)





time frame (2 words)

Victorian public sector

the state

statewide (adj)



time frame


whole-of-government (adj)

Reviewed 26 October 2020

Vic Gov digital guide

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