As a Technical Document Writer, is there still value in using the Australian Government Style Manual in the age of AI?  

Available either in print or online, the Australian Government Style Manual was created by the Australia Public Service Commission and is a reference that directs technical document writers in the appropriate use of language, such as use of spelling (especially those American Z’s), grammar, punctuation and writing conventions. It is also equally useful for scientific writing.  

Additional references for Technical Document Writers

  • To ensure Australian-specific spelling requirements, the manual also recommends use of the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary (ACOD) and the Macquarie Dictionary.
  • For any scientific and technical texts and reports, the Australian Manual Of Style (AMOS) is used for information on the internationally recognised styles in various disciplines such as arts, mathematics, fields of science, and social science and of course in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, i.e. pharmacopeia’s.

Good writers need to have a natural affinity with language, particularly with use of appropriate grammar, punctuation, and syntax to convey the meaning of the written word. These linguistic conventions are equivalent to the spoken word’s body language, cadence and inflection. How many times have you had an email misunderstood by its recipient because of errant punctuation?

Further to that, good technical document writers need to have a strong sense of document structuring and, whilst they need not be experts in the technical field, they should have the appropriate technical background.

As now that we’re living in the age of AI, is it time for the automation to take over the laborious task of regulating our beautiful language? In other words, as a professional document writer, do I still have a job in this AI age?

What is ChatGPT?

Chat GPT is a large language model, as an AI language model it has been developed to include diverse range of text from various sources, including those from Australia and, highly unregulated social media.

Chat GPT writes about itself that:

ChatGPT refers to a variant of the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) model developed by OpenAI. GPT is a type of artificial intelligence language model that is pre-trained on a vast amount of diverse text data and can generate human-like text based on the input it receives. “ChatGPT” specifically refers to versions of GPT that are fine-tuned or designed to be particularly adept at generating responses in a conversational style. These models are often used for chatbots, virtual assistants, and other natural language processing applications where interactive and context-aware responses are important.”

If you believe Microsoft and not Google, Chat GPT is leading the artificial intelligence arms race. Sorry Bard if you ever read this!

We thought that we would test Chat GPT-4 with DALL-E and see how well it does. Will AI pick up the need to include the correct temperature or pressure units? Will it distinguish between g/ml, g/mls, g/mLs, or g/cm3 for density units?  

We were also interested to know if Chat GTP incorporates the Style Manual (after all the Australian Style Manual is available online and therefore Chat GPT should be able to read it. Its last update was April 2023), or if it picks up its grammar and spelling from the vast population butchering the English language on social media.

As a comparison, we also conducted some tests using the premium version of Grammarly.

The Results

Our general AI prompts showed, and as everyone knows, Chat GPT is incredible in generating accurate content, and adhered to everyday Australian grammar, punctuation, and spelling conventions.

The outputs did include some Australian Style Manual requirements, though the text output seem to reflect more the Australian Manual of Style (AMOS) requirements.


  • These included AMOS requirements for topics such as use of space between three (3) letter code and account, punctuation when hyphen in prefixes or expressing age and use of capitals.   
  • The prompt responses showed some differences from the Australian Style Manual requirements regarding spelling too. The spelling of some words appeared to be American English.
    • For example, entering a prompt “Can you tell me more about globalisation and the impact of Chat GTP”  returned spellings of globalization, liberalization, characterized,
  • The presentation of dates and times also differed from the Australian Style Manual requirements.
  • However, by adding “…in Australian English”,  to the prompt, Chat GPT corrected the spelling included in the output. It all seems to start with a good prompt and inclusion of key words!

While it does not seem that Chat GPT can specifically write text in Australian English, as an AI that has been equipped with a broad understanding of English grammar, punctuation, and spelling conventions, it can understand those linguistic conventions commonly used in the Australian English language. It also seemed to have capacity to incorporate specific guidelines or preferences based on Australian style conventions in its responses, to better align with the Australian Style Manual requirements.

So, as a Technical Document Writer should I be getting worried? Should I change careers and become a Technical Prompt Writer?

So how will Chat GPT go with technical document writing?

The use of “Zs” clearly indicate the American influence. We all know that the US is moving to the metric system ‘inch by inch’, so how does Chat GPT handle our simple density question?

So, the entered Chat GPT prompt was “What is the correct way to express the units of measurement for density”  

The response provided included the following: The correct way to express the units of measurement for density depends on the system of measurement being used. In the International System of Units (SI), density is typically expressed in kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m³). However, other units may also be used depending on the context. Here are some common units of measurement for density:

Chat GPT Response

The correct way to express the units of measurement for density depends on the system of measurement being used. In the International System of Units (SI), density is typically expressed in kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m³). However, other units may also be used depending on the context. Here are some common units of measurement for density:
1. SI Units: Kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m³)
2. Metric Units: Grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³)
3. Imperial Units: Pounds per cubic inch (lb/in³), Ounces per cubic inch (oz/in³)
4. Other Units: Pounds per gallon (lb/gal), Ounces per gallon (oz/gal)

When expressing density, it’s important to specify both the unit of mass and the unit of volume to avoid ambiguity. For example, “1 kg/m³” indicates 1 kilogram per cubic meter, while “1 g/cm³” indicates 1 gram per cubic centimeter. Additionally, it’s important to ensure consistency in units when performing calculations or comparing densities across different materials or substances.

Adding the ….in Australian language to the prompt, it corrected the American spelling of centimeter and meter to Australian acceptable units of measurement i.e. centimetre and metre!

At last good news, I won’t lose my job as a technical document writer yet, as I have a keen eye to spot American spelling!

Can we use Chat GPT for technical document writing?

Simple answer is: yes, we can. Chat GPT can indeed offer valuable support and assistance in technical writing tasks. Using its learning algorithm, it can create a text within seconds once the topic has been provided. To obtain the required information in accurate output though, the most important element is the key word(s) used in the prompt.

Nevertheless, when using the Chat GPT in technical writing, we need to consider the following:  

  • Is the created text in alignment with the intended audience?
  • Is the information presented in coherent and consistent way?
  • Is the provided information accurate and clear as intended?
  • Are there elements in the content that can be considered as plagiarised?
  • Are the included technical concepts, terminology, and industry-specific requirements correct?

Human expertise, editing and review of the AI-created content is essential to ensure that the provided text content is of high quality, it is accurate, and that it meets the English language including Australian English requirements. When communicating using technical writing, it is also essential to consider the audience and the context in which we are writing and remember that resources are available that offer valuable guidance for maintaining consistency and clarity in written communication within an Australian context.