Terms and spelling

Spelling, capitalisation and preferred terms

Australian spelling

We use Australian English and the Macquarie Dictionary.

realise – not realize

neighbour – not neighbor

centre – not center

driver licence – not driver license (note: licensed and licensing are correct)


Don’t apply Australian spelling to proper names or titles.


Australian Labor Party

World Trade Organization



Only use abbreviations if there are spacing issues. They should be clear and common forms that make sense to users.


Use full stops after the abbreviation.


Don’t use the Latin abbreviations – eg, ie, etc.

  • Write out ‘for example’.
  • Don’t use ‘ie’ or ‘that is’. – restructure your content instead.
  • Don’t use ‘etc’. – be specific.


Acronyms and initialisms

An acronym is a string of initial letters and pronounced as a word, for example HECS.

An initialism is a string of initial letters and not pronounced as a word, for example CTP.


Don’t spell out acronyms or initialisms that are well known. For example, NSW or EFTPOS.

Don’t use full stops.


Write out the word or phrase on first mention, followed by the shortened form in brackets. Use the shortened form for following mentions.


The NSW Government has reformed the compulsory third party (CTP) insurance scheme to reduce the costs of CTP green slips.


Use ‘a’ or ‘an’ depending on whether the shortened form begins with a consonant or vowel sound.


a HECS debt

a GST amount

an ABN




Addresses should be stacked. Don’t use punctuation at the end of each line.

Abbreviate street types – Street not St, Place not Pl.


If there is a building name, it should be the first line.

Lot, level, shop number is the next line.

Suburb, state and postcode is the last line.


McKell Building

Ground Floor

2-24 Rawson Place

Sydney NSW 2000

If an address is the corner of 2 streets, write in full.

Ivanhoe Police Station

Corner of Columbus Street and Cook Street


Must, need, legally required

When we talk about mandatory requirements, we use the following terms:

  • need
  • must
  • legally required
  • legally entitled
  • legally responsible.

Use ‘need’ when a requirement is legal, but administrative, or part of a process that will not have criminal implications. It’s a legal requirement but not completing it would just stop the user from continuing, rather than committing a more serious offence.

You’ll need to provide copies of your birth certificate.


Use ‘must’ when talking about a legal requirement.


You must have a valid Driver Licence.

You must hold a current Certificate of Insurance before you start any work.


If more emphasis is needed,  use ‘legally required’, ‘legally entitled’, or ‘legally responsible’.


You are legally entitled to a refund.


A-Z of preferred spelling and terms

The following list is preferred spellings, taking in capitalisation and hyphenation


app – not ‘application’

Australian Government (for national government of Australia) – not ‘Government’ ‘Commonwealth Government’ or ‘federal government’

Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)


compulsory third party (CTP) insurance

CTP Green Slip


demerit points


  • lowercase in generic instances
  • initial capitals when referring to a specific department (see Capitalisation)

Department of Premier and Cabinet

driver licence – not ‘driver’s licence’

‘NSW Driver Licence’ – upper case when referring to the actual product

‘a driver licence test’ – lowercase when referring to it more broadly




E-Toll, E-Toll Account, myE-Toll



federal government – use ‘Australian Government’


government (see Capitalisation)

Green Slip


homepage – not ‘home page’


internet – not ‘the Internet’


Justice of the Peace


licence (noun)

  • driver licence

license (verb)

  • to license, licensed premises, licensing authority

local council

local government

log in (verb)

  • Log in with your username
  • Log in to your account

login (noun)

  • Your login is your username and password.

login (adjective)

  • You have used 3 of your 5 login attempts.


Member of Parliament – never use ‘MP’


number plates



on-site (adjective), on site

  • On-site parking is available
  • An officer will be on site tomorrow


passport, passport size photographs


  • ‘photocard’ when referring to a card with your photo on it
  • ‘NSW Photo Card’ when referring to the actual product

pink slip

Police Event Number

post – not ‘mail’

post to, send by post


practice (noun)

  • Doctor’s practice
  • Take the boating knowledge practice quiz.

practise (verb)

  • To practise for the Driver Knowledge Test, you can download a PDF of questions.

program – not ‘programme’


registration, rego

roll-out (noun)


Seniors Card

service centre

  • initial capitals when part of a service centre’s name – Blacktown Service Centre

Service NSW


statutory declaration


Terms and Conditions – not ‘T&Cs’

trade plates


web page

website – not ‘site’ or ‘portal’

wi-fi – not ‘wifi’, ‘WiFi’ or ‘Wi-fi’

written-off vehicle


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