Welcome to the new version of the Patents Manual. Please note there are changes to the numbering and sequence of the chapters and pages in the manual. You are encouraged to take the time to explore and familiarise yourself with this new structure. Requirements for text, pagination, formulas, equations, and drawings

Date Published

Key Legislation: 

Patents Act:

  • s229 Instrument determining formalities requirements for patent documents  

Patents Regulations:

  • Schedule 3 (superseded) Formal requirements for documents to be filed- for applications before 24th February 2019

Legislative Instruments:   

​​​​​​​​Related Chapters:


This section covers some of the relevant formal requirements that specifications must meet. The full requirements can be found in the Formalities Determination document.

Examination practice

Fitness for reproduction

Filed documents must be ‘fit for reproduction’. In practice this generally means they must be typewritten or otherwise machine printed.

Exceptions are symbols relating to graphic matter, and formulas. These may be handwritten or drawn. In special circumstances, the Commissioner may consent to the patent request, specification or abstract being handwritten.

If examiners are in doubt as to whether a document is suitable for reproduction, they should contact CEG.

Unfitness for reproduction is a significant issue and should be objected to where appropriate.

Numbering of pages

The pages of a specification must be numbered consecutively. If there is a cover sheet, it should be page 1. Page numbers should be at the top of the page, but it is acceptable if they are not.

Numbering of drawing sheets

Sheets (pages) containing drawings (figures, graphics or photographs) are to be numbered separately to the rest of the specification. They must be numbered by sets of two Arabic numerals separated by an oblique stroke (for example, 2/10). The first numeral is the consecutive number of the sheet, starting at 1. The second is the total number of drawing sheets. For example, 2/10 is the second drawing sheet out of a total of ten. An expanded view of part of a drawing should be numbered as a separate drawing. 

Numbering of claims

Where there is more than one claim, the claims should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals starting at 1.

There is only an objection if the numbering of the claims leads to a significant lack of clarity.

Units and terminology

In general, the units and terminology used should be consistent throughout the specification and follow internationally recognised standards, for example, the Metric system and degrees Celsius. However, no objection is necessary if the specification does not follow this.

Drawings, graphics, photographs, and colour

Note that the requirements for graphics and photographs and for the use of colour only apply to applications that follow the Formalities Determination, that is, filed on or after 24 February 2019.

Consistent with the ‘fitness for reproduction’ requirement, drawings, graphics and photographs in the specification should be suitable for reproduction. For example, lines should be well defined and of uniform weight. At filing, CEG will check that any drawings, graphics or photographs in the specification are suitable for reproduction.  Where suitable reproductions cannot be made, CEG will issue a direction requiring the filing of a satisfactory replacement.

A graphic or photograph may be filed where it is impossible to represent the information in a drawing.

A drawing, graphic or photograph must not include text, other than words that are essential (‘indispensable’) for it to be understood. 

Similarly, colour is only permitted if the colouring is indispensable to understanding the invention.

For example, it is appropriate to use photographs or colour to describe a plant variety (see Complete Disclosure Micro Organisms and Other Life Forms (requirements for description of plant varieties)).

Colour may also be used to distinguish components that have the same shape but different physical properties.

There is no objection to photographs or the use of colour unless it is clearly inappropriate. Consult a senior examiner if there is any doubt.

Note: Where colour is important to an invention, use of a standard colour reference chart (such as the Royal Horticultural Society Colour Chart) may be an alternative to using colour drawings, graphics or photographs.

Drawings, formulas, and tables in text

The patent request, description and claims must not include drawings, graphics or photographs. These should always be provided separately.

However, the description and claims may include chemical/mathematical formulas or tables.

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended

Published for testing

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