Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators


We're proud to let you know that the independent news and current affairs website Newsroom is our official media partner for 2019. Image by Sofiya Levchenko. Unsplash licence.

Working alone has its benefits. But joining forces with someone else can be even better.

We’re excited to announce that we have an official media partner for this year’s People’s Choice Awards — the independent news and current affairs website Newsroom. Many of you will know Newsroom, a New Zealand site with a team of award-winning journalists. This team produces quality written and video stories that set the national news agenda and inform intelligent conversations at every level of New Zealand life.

Focusing on people, progress, and democracy

One of the many traits we love about Newsroom is their focus on delivering ‘in-depth storytelling for thinking audiences with an interest in the people, progress, and democracy of Aotearoa’.

‘Newsroom and the Awards share some important values,’ says Gregory Fortuin, Chair of the WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust.

‘We’re both interested in the progress of Aotearoa and in how New Zealanders exercise their democratic rights. At the Awards we believe that clear communication is the democratic right of every New Zealander.’

What this partnership means for the Awards

As our media partner, Newsroom will be helping to spread the word about our Awards. They’ll also officially announce our winners on Thursday, 28 November. We’ll direct you to their site for these announcements, if you don’t get there earlier. And all other announcements, including shortlists and finalists, will continue to be published on our Awards site.

When to look out for results

Our judges’ decisions will be announced on the following dates.

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Who’s the best and who’s the worst? Our panel of expert judges will make this year’s tough decisions. Image by Emily Morter. Unsplash licence.

Every year we’re honoured to enlist the support of plain language specialists from around New Zealand and the world to judge entries and nominations in our Awards. This year’s People’s Choice Awards are no different.

The exciting task of deciding who’s best

For our Best Communication category, we’re delighted to announce Deanna Lorianni, communications strategist from Virginia, USA, as panel chair. She’ll be joined by plain language specialists Emma Fossey in Scotland and Paula Shelton in Auckland. Together Deanna, Emma, and Paula will make the tough decision on which of your nominations is this year’s plain language superstar.

The difficult job of sorting bad from worse

For our Brainstrain category, we’re lucky enough to have the expert eye of two judges who’ve been part of this panel for several years: Simon Hertnon from Nakedize, who’ll be chairing the panel, and Sue Chetwin from Consumer — we’re excited to have them back! Simon and Sue will be joined by the equally valuable Paula van Gemen, plain language specialist from the Netherlands.

Read more about who’s on this year’s judging panels

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Do you know of a document that makes about as much sense as a bear doing aquayoga? Let us know! Image by Ryan Grewell. Unsplash licence.

It shouldn’t take more than one reading to decipher a passage of text.

How often do you ponder a passage of text that you just can’t untangle on one reading? Every day, I expect. Today’s special for me was an email from a software firm that included terms like ‘personalisation’, ‘confidentiality provision’, ‘ecosystem partners’, ‘beta participants’, ‘busywork’ — and more!

One or two of these terms I could manage and, to be fair, the writer was trying to summarise a larger document that was even more complex. But the two very long paragraphs in the email were jam-packed with similar terms. So the overall result was that the email missed its mark. The text was dense and difficult to decipher, so I didn’t really bother to try.

Tell us about giving up on gobbledygook

Gobbledygook hides the main messages. The reader has to struggle to understand. And that makes our busy lives even busier. If they give up, they’ve wasted their time. It’s not okay.

The People’s Choice Awards give you the chance to find examples of gobbledygook in everyday communications and dob them in. Nominate the worst communications you’ve found for the Brainstrain Award. You can nominate documents or webpages from government or business organisations.

We’d love to hear from you so we can help to stamp out gobbledygook. This is your chance to change the way New Zealand communicates!

Find out how to nominate here

Find out about the 2018 Brainstrain winner here

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We’re thrilled to welcome Chloe Wright of the Wright Family Foundation as our new patron.

Chloe’s background and interests make her the perfect fit for the role of patron. The Trust and the working group that organises the Awards are thrilled to have her on board.

Chloe herself is equally thrilled!

‘I’m honoured that you’ve invited me to be patron of the Plain English Awards. I can see the huge potential in the Plain English Awards, and commend you for what you’ve achieved in the past 14 years. The Awards’ goals of making plain English a natural part of everyday business and government communication is something I strongly support.

‘So often people don’t want to say that they can’t understand an official document or form. They think it’s because they lack some knowledge or skill — when mostly the problem lies in the writing they’re trying to untangle.

‘I’m going to embrace being patron of the Plain English Awards, because I’m passionate about championing people’s right to understand.’

Read more about Chloe Wright
Find out more about the WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust

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A big driver of the Plain English Awards is to improve the quality of communications created for everyday New Zealanders.

We want you, as a member of the New Zealand public, to be able to understand everything that’s communicated to you. Because it’s your right to understand!

Another organisation pushing for clear communications is WriteMark. The WriteMark is a quality mark awarded to documents or websites that achieve a high standard of plain language.

When your document holds the WriteMark, your readers can be sure that your writing meets a very high standard of clarity. The WriteMark is an internationally recognised quality mark developed in New Zealand.

Image, WriteMark Limited logo

We’re very proud to have WriteMark as one of our principal sponsors

Find out more about WriteMark

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