Writing for LawInfo NT

The information on this page is about drafting content for LawInfo NT. Content should follow these guidelines, as well as the plain language guidelines.  

LawInfo NT links people to simple, plain language information and connects people, where possible, with a range of other information resources. This includes other websites, fact sheets, guides, films, audio, and posters developed by other organisations. For help choosing resources, please see the plain language guidelines

Writing guidelines (under development)

Adding a new topic or Q&A

During the development stage of LawInfo NT, we did extensive consultation with key stakeholders to find out which legal topics people in the community most often asked about. A new topic should only be added if

  • the NT CLE Network identifies a need for information about that topic, in consultation with its various member organisations
  • A particular network (for example, the Domestic and Family Violence Network) identifies a need for information about that topic
  • other??

Each new topic must be approved by the website coordinator and the LawInfoNT steering group before it is added to the website.

Each topic contains Q&As based on the most common questions people ask. The website is not intended to cover all the legal questions it is possible to ask about that particular topic. We encourage you to provide feedback about whether the current Q&As are useful, and whether there is a need for further Q&As on a particular topic. A new Q&A should only be added if

  • ??
  • ??

Each new Q&A must be approved by the website coordinator before it is added to the website. A new Q&A must have an information flow (question, short answer, long answer, glossary term(s), service providers, resources: read, watch, listen, look). Information flows should be developed in partnership between the website coordinator and contributing partner.  

1.     Questions

When drafting questions, think about how a website user might ask the question. Use first person for questions: can my landlord or agent come to my house without telling me?

If there are multiple ways you could phrase a question, use these other forms of the question as tags (see technical manual). Key words will also become tags.

2.     Short answers

Short answers should be a maximum of 140 characters and communicate one key message. Break down ideas into separate sentences and use a new line for each new idea. Do not include hyperlinks in a short answer. Avoid using technical or glossary terms in a short answer. Use second person for answers: the landlord or agent must tell you before they come to the house.

3.     Long answers

Long answers should be a maximum of 1250 characters. Break down ideas into separate sentences and use a new line for each new idea. Use bullet points if helpful to break up lists and sets of ideas. If you need to use a technical term, provide a definition with a linked glossary term.

4.     Glossary terms

Use neutral third person for glossary items, for example: a contract is an agreement between two or more people. Second person is also acceptable, for example: rent is money that you pay to use something that belongs to someone else. Do not use other technical terms within the glossary definition. When listing a glossary term in the database, use lower case unless the term is a proper noun (such as the name of an organisation).

5.     Resources

Each resource entry must have a statement describing the resource. This statement should be in plain language and tell the website user what they can use the resource for. For example: this video shows you what to look for when you rent something.

6.     Service providers

Each service provider entry must have a statement describing the service. This statement should be in plain language and tell the website user what help they can get from the service. For example: TEWLS provides legal advice and information to women across the top end of the Northern Territory. If the service is known by an acronym, use the acronym first and then list the full name of the service: TEWLS (Top End Women’s Legal Service).  

Writing style

LawInfoNT was designed for a non-legal, community audience and should be accessible for people with low literacy or who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. All text should be in plain language. Some style tips:

  • avoid the passive voice
  • prefer subject-verb-object sentence structures
  • set out concepts in chronological order
  • limit flowery adjectival language (write clearly and directly)
  • avoid slang and idioms
  • avoid words that create ambiguity like could, should, would, and may. Instead, use can, might, will, and must
  • use informal language where appropriate (for example, use contractions)
  • use minimal capitalisation and punctuation
  • remove unnecessary spacing (and never use two spaces after a full stop)
  • for a new line, press shift+enter. For a new paragraph, press enter
  • use italics for emphasis instead of underlining. Bold is okay for strong statements.
  • prefer colon to ellipsis.

If you have any questions about this guide, or if there is missing or incorrect information on this website, please contact the website coordinator at dorothy.fauls@ntlac.nt.gov.au.  

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