Principles of template construction


Language should be community focused.

  • Use active language and choose active verbs clearly.
  • Personalise messages by communicating in second person rather than third person plural (i.e. ‘What you should do’ vs “What to do”).
  • Avoid operational language.
  • Language should be simple to cater to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Notifications should be tailored to the community and contain only relevant information. This should be achieved through the use of drag and drop statements and agency specific guidelines. Repetition of information within a notification should be avoided.

There should be consistency in the way in which information is presented. Headings should be used to improve message comprehension by segmenting information into small sections. The structure of messages should be consistent across warning levels and hazards.

All instructions and calls to action should assume that the community has not prepared or is underprepared to respond to the emergency.


Research including Choose Your Words, CFA testing with the Victorian community, research from Dr Rob Gordon, and feedback on current and updated templates from the Queensland University of Technology has been used to inform the principles of template construction, the structure of templates and the language used in templates. Other research that has been considered includes the 2013 review of community responses to bushfire threats which identified seven archetypes or typical patterns in the way people interpret the risk and respond to the threat of a bushfire. Also considered was research on how best to structure messages for culturally and linguistically diverse communities and easy English. You can find information on what easy English is here

Easy English key points include: 

  • Choose words that are widely understood. 
  • Use consistent language to talk about the same thing - for example use 'home' consistently rather than interchanging it with 'house'. 
  • One idea per sentence. 
  • Provide instructions in the sequence they need to be performed. 
  • Write only the key points
  • Have two spaces before and after a number - for example 'expected to impact in  2  hours. 
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