Make your online presence fit in with the Australian market

A localisation guide for Australia

Make your online presence fit in with the Australian market

1 Overview

We’ve created this guide to help you get closer to your Australian customers. A web presence that is in tune with Australia’s culture will make your customers feel well disposed to you, and give them the confidence to do business with you. Get the little details right, and you'll be in a good position right from the start in your new market.

2 The main language

Australian English is the main spoken and written language. Even though it is a culturally diverse country, most customers would expect to be communicated to in English.

Australian English spellings are largely similar to British English spellings, and differ from American English spellings. One example is that many words in Australian English have a “u” where there is none in American English.

Here is an example:

Australia US
Favour Favor
Colour Color
Honour Honor

However, some proper nouns like Australia’s Labor party and Victor Harbor are spelled without the u.

Australian English will use an s instead of the z used in American English.

Australia US
Organise Organize
Maximise Maximize
Stylise Stylize

Tip

Australian English does use some American spellings such as “program” instead of “programme.”

Many Australian words differ from UK English and are US words, and to keep you on your toes, many are the same as UK words.

Australian English UK English US English
Mobile Phone Mobile Phone Cell Phone
Public holiday Bank holiday Public holiday
Main street High street Main street
ATM Cash machine ATM
Toll-free Freephone Toll-free
Soccer Football Soccer
Taxi Taxi Cab
Autumn Autumn Fall

3 Formality

Should you be formal or informal when addressing your customers?

Australians are informal in their language, both written and spoken. Even politicians use colourful language when interviewed for the national press.

Your customers will expect you to be friendly and polite. If in doubt adopt a more formal, yet friendly, form of address.

Australians are used to seeing advertisements which are often informal and fun. Most products are written about informally too. At times this can verge on playful.Products with this playful informality include YouTube, Gmail, and Google Play.

If you have a financial product, a legal service, or are talking about money, you should adopt a more formal tone and style.

4 Numbering systems and formats

Numerals

Decimal separator

This is a dot or full stop (.),
e.g 1.5 hours.

Thousands and decimals

There is no separator between 1000 and 9000
e.g. 1524 people.

Then, it is: 10, 000, 100,000, 1,000,000,
e.g. 19,524 people

Telephone numbers

Telephone numbers are usually in the format of local code followed by an eight digit number (+02) 1234 5678. Mobile numbers usually start with 04 and follow this format 0412 345 678.

International numbers follow the country code 61 followed by the 0 which is dropped before the local code,
e.g. (61) 2 1234 5678.

Mobile numbers are (61) 123 456 789.

The freephone number prefix is 1800.

Good to know

Australians normally write out numerals from 1–9 (one, five, nine) and double digits are written as numerals, i.e. 12, 24, etc. The separator for ranges of numbers is an en dash (–),
e.g. 11–19 people.

5 Currency format

Australians trade in Australian dollars and cents. This is represented by the dollar sign $ and its trading three letter code AUD.

The note denominations are $100 $50 $20 $10 $5.

The coin denominations are $1 $2 50¢ 20¢ 10¢ 5¢.

6 Dates, times, and working days

Date and time formats

In Australia the date format is DD/MM/YY,
e.g. 24/03/17.

Or if written out in full, it should be "24 March 2017" (no commas and no ordinals like th, nd, or st).

When writing out dates in full, including the day, put a comma in after the day,
e.g. Monday, 27 March 2017.

7 Hour formats

The 12-hour clock is commonly used in Australia.

In everyday speech and most contexts, the 12-hour format is preferred and should be written as 9.35 pm or 6.21 am.

The 24-hour format is favoured on digital devices like PCs, phones, tablets, etc. and is the standard format on Android where the separator is a colon, e.g. 14:24.

8 Working days

Standard working days are Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm. Weekends are Saturday and Sunday.

9 Things to avoid in the Australian market

Every culture has different superstitions and traditions which are always worth noting, especially when entering a new market. Australians consider the number 13 to be unlucky, but don’t take this too seriously.

10 Important rules

Here are the top five translation tips that will make you sound like a local in no time:

  1. Take a note of the differences in spelling, punctuation, pricing, date formats, measurements, terminology, etc

  2. Stay clear of colloquialisms and expressions used in your language, as they may not have been heard of in Australia. For example slang

  3. Take account of cultural differences so you don’t confuse or offend your Australian audience. Avoid cultural clichés like “put a shrimp on the barbie” and “G’day mate!” as most Australians do not speak like this

  4. Keep your marketing copy in line with the Australian audience by having a local read through your communications before you “go live”

  5. Australians like to shorten everything. So, a barbeque is “a barbie”, this afternoon is “this arvo”, breakfast is “brekkie” and university is “uni”

11 Additional guidelines

Discover how to ensure your website is local in tone and language in our website localisation guide.