Use of keywords in the QGEA

Keywords play an important role in communicating and understanding your obligations, including what’s mandatory (and what isn’t) when interpreting documents in the QGEA. We hope that both QGEA authors and readers find the following information useful.

The following table describes the keywords used within QGEA documents.

MustThe statement is an absolute requirement.
Must not*The statement is an absolute prohibition.
WillThe statement is a commitment to a future outcome.
Will not*The statement is a commitment to an absolute prohibition.
ShouldThere may be valid reasons or circumstances to ignore a statement, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.
Should not*There may exist valid reasons or circumstances when a statement is not acceptable or useful, but the full implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed before choosing a difference course.
MayThe item is optional

* Please note: the preference is to development statements that demonstrate a positive outcome, so the use of prohibitions is generally discouraged, if an alternative is available.

Use of keywords across different QGEA documents

There is a strong relationship between keywords and QGEA documents and it is important to consider which keyword is most suitable for use. The following table provides a general guide, and should be read in conjunction with the QGEA document hierarchy.

Must/must notYY???  
Will/will notYY     
Should/should not  YYYYY

? - The use of mandatory terms within these documents will only occur if these documents have been mandated through a policy, e.g. the ICT cabling policy mandates the use of the ICT cabling standard.

Use of mandatory terms (‘must’ and ‘will’)

‘Must’ and ‘must not’ are predominantly used in QGEA policy or a document mandated through policy. These keywords should not be used in QGEA guidelines and other non-mandatory QGEA tools.

‘Must’ and ‘must not’ can only be used within non-mandatory documents when it is explaining, providing context or referencing an existing mandate (i.e. legislation, regulation, government policy).  For clarity, when using the word 'must', an explicit reference to the mandate is required.

‘Will’ and ‘will not’ are predominantly used in principle statements where a vision of a future state is being set.

Aligning keywords to other keyword conventions

Consistent use of keywords important and the preferred approach in the QGEA. However, where an author chooses to adopt a different keyword convention, for example to align to an internationally recognised standard, then the author must provide a keyword mapping to assist the reader in interpreting mandatory vs non-mandatory items.,

Clarifying the intent of documents

You will find standard statements at the beginning of some QGEA documents to help clarify whether the document is mandatory, not-mandatory or a mixture of both (e.g. a QGEA standard).

The following is an example statement for a non-mandatory QGEA guideline:

This guideline provides information and advice for Queensland Government departments to consider when implementing the policy requirements of the Use of ICT services, facilities and devices policy (IS38). This guideline does not form the mandatory component of IS38 and is for information only. While some information communicates other mandatory obligations which may be relevant in the context of IS38 (e.g. legislation), departments are strongly recommended to further investigate these obligations in light of their own business requirements, and seek legal/expert advice where necessary.

The following is an example statement for a QGEA standard that has both mandatory and non-mandatory elements. Please note that this example also shows where the author has adopted an alternative keyword convention:

A Queensland Government Enterprise Architecture (QGEA) standard provides information for Queensland Government departments on the mandatory and recommended practices for a given topic area. They are intended to help departments understand the appropriate approach to address a particular issue or to do a particular task. Unlike a guideline, which is best practice advice, a QGEA standard is mandatory. For further information on QGEA document types, go to the QGCIO website.

This standard [ICT cabling infrastructure technical standard] provides mandatory requirements, recommended best practice, background information and guidance.


This standard contains normative and informative elements. Normative elements (mandatory requirements) are indicated by the words “shall” or “shall not”. All other elements are informative.

Last Reviewed: 04 April 2018