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Changes to format of legislation

11 April 2015

We have made some minor changes to the format of legislation, and to the New Zealand Legislation website.

  • The changes have no legal effect—they do not change the meaning of legislation.
  • The changes have been made in response to user demands.
  • We have followed the principle that any new format must be:
    • unambiguous and readable/easy to follow
    • as simple as possible to implement technically
    • workable in both the PDF and HTML formats (PDFs are for downloading and printing; HTML is the "regular" website view).

The changes apply to legislation published (or republished) from 11 April 2015 onwards.

What has changed?
What legislation is affected?
Why change?
More detail about the changes

What has changed?

How amendments are shown in amending legislation

Blocks of text in amending legislation that are to be inserted into other legislation are shaded, instead of having quote marks around them.

Page size

The page size of printed legislation is standardised to A4. Previously, most legislation was published to fit on a smaller (B5) page size. Legislation in PDF format that you print from the New Zealand Legislation website onto A4 paper now has more text on the page, with slightly less surrounding white space.

Other changes

There are some other smaller changes, for example to spacing. At the same time we have made some improvements to the usability and accessibility of the New Zealand Legislation website.

See below for more detail about the changes »

What legislation is affected?

The changes apply to legislation published (or republished) from 11 April 2015 onwards—changes are not retrospective. This means that when you view or print legislation last published before this date, it will be in the "old" format. Existing legislation will take on the new format only when it is republished, for example if it is later amended.

The changes apply to all types of legislation—Acts, Legislative Instruments, Bills, and Supplementary Order Papers (although Supplementary Order Papers and printed Bills already used the larger A4 format).

Why change?

Using shading to indicate blocks of amendments to be inserted makes the amendments easier to identify.

The page size has increased to A4 because this is what users have told us they prefer. When we surveyed legislation users, 73% supported a change to A4 (only 18% preferred the smaller page size).

We have also taken the opportunity to improve the usability of the website, based on user feedback and requirements under the Government Accessibility and Usability Standards.

Simplifying the layout of legislation improves the efficiency of our publishing process. We have updated part of our publishing system software, and the new layout rules ease the transition to the new system. Simplification will reduce operating and printing costs. It will also make future developments of the website easier to implement.

More detail about the changes

To see the new format in practice, view an example Bill (PDF 184KB) »

  • Shading is used in amending legislation to indicate blocks of text to be inserted into other legislation. This replaces the quotation marks used previously for blocks of text. Quotation marks are still used for shorter inserted phrases.
  • The page size for Acts and Legislative Instruments increases, from B5 to A4. This applies to PDFs and printed legislation only, not HTML. PDFs and legislation that you print for yourself onto A4 paper has more text and slightly less white space on each page than previously.
  • Spacing in tables of contents and elsewhere has increased, improving readability. Spacing is standardised, reducing the complex rules applied at present.
  • The use of "continued" lines in schedules has been reduced, to only appear in schedules of consequential amendments. (This applies to PDFs and printed legislation only, not HTML.)

Changes that apply to legislation in HTML format, but not PDF:

  • Website links are no longer underlined, aiding readability. They continue to be shown in blue. This change applies to all legislation on the website, no matter when published.
  • HTML tables include table summaries. Table summaries are invisible to the general website user, but can be used by screen reading technology to give visually impaired readers the overall sense of the table. Table summaries, like alt-text for images, are not part of the legislation and have no legal effect. See the NZ Legislation website Disclaimer »
  • Some versions of Bills use revision tracking, or track change markup. This markup, if used, is also shown in the table of contents. Previously the markup was not shown in tables of contents for PDF and printed versions.

Other website changes include:

  • The suggestions that appear as you type into Quick Search are ordered more intuitively. Titles that start with your search terms are presented first, followed by other titles in alphabetical order. (Suggestions appear when searching titles, but not content.)
  • You can click column headings on search and browse results pages to sort your results in ascending or descending order.

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