Australian style2021-07-14T14:42:47+10:00


Welcome to the new-look Australian Style, restyled – in association with Biotext – as one of the essential spokes of the Macquarie StyleHub. The newsletter’s been around for a while, in various formats. It first appeared in 1992 as a print publication from Macquarie University’s Dictionary Research Centre, and later went online, with the last edition produced in 2012. It may look a little different, but its purpose has always been the same – to reflect on issues of Australian language, and editorial style more generally, providing a resource and a forum for professional language users.

Many of the elements of Australian Style are the same too. We will be presenting feature articles from authorities in their fields, giving a wide variety of perspectives. Here we have design guru David Whitbread, reflecting on changes in design and illustration since the start of the century; and vastly experienced science editor Janet Salisbury, writing about ways of achieving clarity in science writing, and ‘lexicographer at large’ Dick Kimber. Another feature that’s maintained is the report from the ABC on questions of English grammar, pronunciation and usage that its monthly committee (now known as ‘ABC Language’ rather than ‘SCOSE’) deals with. The ABC’s language research specialist, Tiger Webb, will provide a regular column for us.

Our language surveys, known as Feedbacks, have always been an important part of the publication. They provide survey data on our readers’ attitudes towards contentious areas of spelling, pronunciation, grammar and other areas of style. This issue provides a report on the last Feedback survey we ran, on spelling variations like color/colour and usable/useable. The new survey asks questions about the presentation of dates, numbers and units of measurement. The responses we get to these surveys give us an idea about current and changing usages in Australia, information that we can feed back into style advice provided on the StyleHub.

The Rubicon puzzle, a hybrid of crossword, jigsaw and acrostic, created for Australian Style by word-master David Astle, will also be a regular feature, although these are republished rather than freshly created. Hopefully, a new audience will discover the delights and frustrations involved in solving this unique brainteaser.

Newer elements are the IPEd (Institute of Professional Editors) column – which will feature conference reports and other items of interest for and by IPEd members. We also have a column devoted to terms with a particular Australian flavour,  from boofy to kangatarianism, ‘Australian Style words’. We’d really like your input on words that could be covered in this column, and would also welcome suggestions for a more catchy title for it. Please send any thoughts and comments on this, or any other element of the newsletter, to me at [email protected].

Adam Smith


Pam Peters

Emeritus Professor, Adjunct Professor, Macquarie University

Pam Peter is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities


Jan-Louis Kruger

Head of Department and Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics

Jan-Louis is Head of the Department of Linguistics and a member of the Centre for Language Sciences