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What is a style guide and what is a visual language?

Print Style Guides

Are a set of standards for writing and designing documents. The implementation of a style guide provides uniformity in style and formatting within a document and across multiple documents.

Style guides can focus on:

  • graphic design with topics such as typography and white space
  • written style with topics such as tone (casual, formal, etc),  preferred sentence lengths, manuscript layout, depth of treatment of a subject, spelling (UK vs. US for example), readership considerations, use of abbreviations, accepted terminology, the use of symbols, voice preferences (active v passive, first person v second or third), structure, paragraph numbering and indentation, the use of headings, the use of lists, trademark or branding considerations.

Website Style Guides

Website style guides cover visual and technical aspects, along with text. They provide a means of documenting basic rules and features that ensure consistency in output. They can make websites look and read consistently, and thus translate into a better user experience, higher usability and ultimately fulfill a website’s goals more effectively. Website style guides can focus on: font styles – normal, bold, italic, etc., colour, size and font of headings, the image used for bullet point lists, the size of the images on the site and any associated border around them, order lists, videos, etc.

Visual Language

An image that dramatizes and communicates an idea presupposes the use of a visual language. Just as people can ‘verbalize’ their thinking, they can ‘visualise’ it. A diagram, a map, and a painting are all examples of uses of visual language. Its structural units include line, shape, color, form, motion, texture, pattern, direction, orientation, scale, angle, space and proportion.


Print Style Guide Examples

Australia Taxation Office

Factsheets for the ATO

Department of Health and Aging

Dept of Health Handbooks

NPWS – Brochures for Print

The Office of Environment and Heritage (formerly DEC, DECC, DECCW) and NPWS have been clients since 2002. During this period we have designed an extensive amount of material across a range of formats whilst conforming with brand guidelines and templates.

Trial Bay Gaol Brochure

Natural Resource Management Information Series  – series of 15 Advisory Notes

Natural Resource Management Advisory Notes

Identification Guidelines for Endangered Ecological Communities – a series of 20+

EEC's - Identification Guidelines

Endangered Ecological Community – Nominations to List – a series of 10+

EEC Nominations

Lord Howe Island Board

Lord Howe Island Factsheets

Solitary Islands Marine Park

Solitary Islands Marine Park Factsheets


Web Style Guide examples

NPWS – Online Brochures

Parks Week Posters

Parks Week Flyer – NPWS Style Guide


Visual Language examples

NPWS – Spirit of the Land

The Spirit of the Land exhibition at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre in Port Macquarie used a flexible but common visual language primarily through the use of fonts, colours and the batik banners that were created for the exhibition. The banners have been used where possible in the bottom banner of posters, flyers, invitations and postcards.

View more of the exhibition here …

Spirit of the Land Exhibition Billboard

NPWS – Solitary Islands Coastal Walk

The visual language for the newly created coastal walk incorporated elements of the NPWS branding in the minor directional signage and headland signage. Once again consistancy of fonts, colours, mapping elements, photography placement and proportions were maintained throughout.

You can view more of the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk project here …

Major Directional Map for Bonville Headland

Major Directional Map for Bonville Headland

Solitary Islands Coastal Walk Minor Directional Signage

Solitary Islands Coastal Walk Minor Directional Signage

Glenn Innes Land Council – Willow Boorabee Interpretive Signage

A series of 11 signs has been complete for the Glenn Innes Land Council. All signs use the same visual language through the use of graphic elements, fonts, layout and design.

View more of the Willow Boorabee project here …

Willow Boorabee aboriginal signs

Willow Boorabee aboriginal signs

More Interpretive Signage Projects with established visual language

Flat Camp & Buzby Flats

Clarence Valley Council – Brooms Head

Nimbin Rocks

Kempsey Council – Horseshoe Bay

Style Guidelines

In addition to the creation of new artwork to match existing style guidelines we have also created style guidelines for

  • Cowra POW Camp signage
  • Gondwana Rainforests of Australia
  • Majestic Cinemas

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