Note: This style guide is intended for use by anyone writing or editing an AERO publication. It should be used in conjunction with the Australian Government Style Manual and anything not covered in this guide should be sought out there.
Use the appropriate tone for the target audience: ‘formal’ or ‘standard’. Writing aimed at researchers, academics and analysts (aka ‘policy wonks’) will usually be formal. That will cover most research reports. Writing aimed at teachers, educators and even most school leaders should be standard. That will cover most, if not all, practice publications. According to the government style manual, ‘Most people find standard tone easiest to understand’.
The government style manual and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) both strongly encourage a reading level of ‘lower secondary’. That means writing ‘to a reading level…of Year 7 (age range 12 to 14 years)’.
It is worth quoting the style manual at length:
Even highly literate people appreciate easy-to-read content, especially when the subject matter is complex or unfamiliar. And writing in a clear, concise way should not be seen as ‘dumbing down’ your content. No-one has ever complained about content being too easy to understand. Keeping your content clear and concise takes skill, but it is worth the effort.
AERO’s uses APA referencing style.
A primary research report should be cited as per APA’s ‘report with individual authors’ style. For example:
Chen, S., Baxter, T., & Ogwayo, C. (2023). Evidence use in schools: Full report. Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO). https://www.edresearch.edu.au/resources/ [page]
A summary of a primary report, or any other kind of publication, such as a practice guide or knowledge translation piece, should be cited as per APA’s ‘report by a government agency’ style. For example:
Australian Education Research Organisation. (2023). Evidence use in schools: Summary report. Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO). https://www.edresearch.edu.au/resources/ [page]
Please also note:
- If a report is published online, the link to the report should be to the web landing page, not to the PDF.
- A research report’s reference list should only be given in the report’s PDF version, as the report’s web landing page will only contain a summary of the report.
- Conversely, a practice publication’s reference list, if there is one, should not be given in its PDF version and only in its web landing page. (See also Citation style in practice publications.)
In keeping with tone guidelines (see Tone, above), the correct approach to in-text citations will depend on the publication type.
Citing authors in AERO publications
AERO research reports (note, only research reports) may cite individual authors, AERO-aligned or otherwise.
Individual authors are also listed in the ‘Authors’ and ‘How to cite’ sections of the publication prelims (see ‘Appendix 1: Standard text for publications’, below) and on the report landing page.
The ‘Authorship’ guide of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) states, ‘as a general rule, all those who have made a significant intellectual or scholarly contribution should be named as authors’. Providing ‘they agree to be listed as an author’.
The order of author listings should be negotiated between the report authors under the leadership of the lead author.
Where First Nations research is involved, consult the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Code of Ethics for guidance on contributions, attribution and acknowledgement and dissemination.
For styling of citations, see References, above.
Crediting other contributors
Where a legal agreement exists with an external collaborator, credits and copyright notices must align with the agreement. However, as per the NHMRC guidelines, only ‘those who have made a significant intellectual or scholarly contribution’ to the report may be cited as authors. (AERO production staff are not credited as authors or otherwise.)
Citation style in research reports
Research reports tend to take a formal approach to citations, which is one way of demonstrating their rigour and authority.
Research reports should follow the author-date approach favoured by the American Psychological Association (APA), which is recommended by the government style manual. E.g., ‘Jones (2017) reported similar results’ or ‘Other results were similar (Jones 2017)’, followed by a reference list at the end of the publication.
Citation style in practice publications
Practice publications are intended for a non-academic, largely practitioner audience.
- Spacing and retrieval practice guide
- Supporting teachers to use research evidence well in practice
- Evaluating non-academic sources – The CRAAP test
The credibility of practice publications derives in part from the AERO brand, which, in turn, is underpinned by the rigour of AERO’s research. But this does not mean practice publications need to ‘ape’ research reports. It is enough that both kinds of products are seen to originate from the same organisation with the same high standards.
Because of their audience and intended purpose, practice publications do not and should not reference the literature in the same formal, ‘author-date’ manner that research reports do. They should put usability to the fore.
Practice publications should minimise the number of references they include. Many will require zero references. And those that do contain references should use unobtrusive superscript endnotes instead of author-date referencing.
Finally, practice publications should not include reference sections in the PDF publication, but instead link to a References (‘and further reading’ if appropriate) section in the publication’s web landing page.
Writing about AERO
|See edresearch.edu.au/about-us for the official AERO story|
|Refer to AERO in the singular, however if a tract of text the word ‘AERO’ gets too repetitive, you may use ‘we’ to break things up (even though this is not strictly grammatical).||The Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) is pleased to announce…|
|Spell out AERO in full in the first instance and give acronym in brackets. Use the acronym after that. (Note ‘the’ is not capitalised unless it is the first word of a sentence.)||As above.|
|In legal circumstances, use ‘Australian Education Research Organisation Limited (AERO)’|
|Use single quotes. Only use double quotes for quotes within quotes.||He said, ‘I asked her and she said, “Fine with me,” so I took the picture down.’|
|Do not place a space either side of a forward slash.||Wrong: ‘day / night’
Use sentence case for headings and when referring to publications or AERO projects.
|Use title case for:
Do not use underline, except for hyperlinks. Limit use of italics and of bold.
|From a paper about equity:
‘…all students need access to high-quality instruction that will support them to achieve. Schools and teachers need to be adequately equipped to support excellent and equitable outcomes for all students.’
Preferred terms: Use/don’t use
|Australian Curriculum||National curriculum|
|The Department of Education||The education department|
|Early childhood and care service||
For more information, see ‘How to talk about ECEC’
|edresearch.edu.au||www.edresearch.edu.au or https://www.edresearch.edu.au|
|English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D)||EAL|
Stakeholder groups should be referred to as specifically as possible in external documents. Try to avoid catch-alls such as ‘stakeholders’, ‘audience’, ‘education professionals’, and ‘education practitioners’.
Preferred terms, general:
- educators and teachers (‘educators’ alone cannot stand in for both)
- schools and early childhood education and care
- children and young people (when talking about ultimate outcomes) or children and students (when talking about those attending services and schools).
- school and service leaders
- education policymakers
- parents and primary caregivers
- national education architecture
- researchers and academics
Terms to avoid:
- educators as a stand-in for ‘educators and teachers’
- evidence-literacy (use ‘literacy’ only in a curriculum sense)
- reach out
See ‘How to talk about ECEC’.
- Instead of Director/manager, use service leader.
- Approved learning frameworks – refer to as EYLF V2.0 and MTOP V2.0.
- ‘Children’ refers to all children birth to 5 years; 'very young children' is used to distinguish infants under 2 years.
- Educational support officers
- School leaders
- Systems and sectors
Spelling and Word Choice
Spelling preference is generally the first option cited in the Macquarie dictionary, except where specified below.
For preferred spellings of Indigenous languages and place names, go to www.firstlanguages.org.au/nangun-wruk.
Internal file names
Example file name: Implementation plan_Draft v1_161220; Implementation plan_Final v1_161220
- Clear and brief document title – preferably under 30 characters
- Include version numbering
- Include date. Format: yyyymmdd or yyyymm
Publication file names
Before upload onto a website or digital distribution, give a file a ‘web-friendly’ file name. This means:
- No spaces (hyphens to replace spaces)
- No version numbering
- No dates
- All lower-case