Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators


Let’s celebrate our greatest communicators, when we’re up and running again. Image by Clark Tibbs / Unsplash licence.

You, like us, will no doubt have seen many examples of wonderfully clear communication related to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few months. We’ve received several messages in this time from people wanting to acknowledge some of these communications.

When we’re up and running again, we’ll welcome entries in the Plain English Awards from people looking for acknowledgement of their own hard work. We’ll also be encouraging members of the public to nominate the work of others in our People’s Choice categories.

While we’re still on hold at the moment, we are looking ahead to figure out when the time will be right to run the Awards again. All going well, we should be on track to open up entries next year, in 2021.

So hold on to all the examples of clear communications that you’re creating, using, sharing, and benefitting from. We couldn’t be more keen to celebrate them when we we’re back.

Read about the winning entries at our most recent full Awards

Watch Write Limited’s ‘Thank you’ video, acknowledging those who’ve communicated so clearly during the COVID pandemic

Posted In: 2020 Plain English Awards

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While we're not running the Awards in 2020, we will be back! So hold on to your entries. Image by Neel / Unsplash licence

The annual Plain English Awards is a world-class event that relies on the efforts and support of a large and varied group of plain language enthusiasts. From our generous sponsors to our international panels of judges; our administrative team through to our entrants — every year we benefit from a huge amount of passion and commitment.

We acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on many individuals and organisations, so we’ve decided not to run the Awards this year. We’re mindful that many organisations that would normally enter may be under greater pressure than usual. And that other organisations and individuals who usually get involved with the Awards may have less availability.

Our patron, Chloe Wright, supports the decision: ‘I think this option makes sense for this year,’ she says. ‘So many difficult decisions have had to be made over the past few months. We must look to a different and better future by coming through COVID shaken but whole.’

We’ll be ready to roll again when the time’s right

Although we’re not running the Awards this year, we will be back soon. We’ve loved the wonderful examples of plain English that we’ve seen being used both in New Zealand and overseas to communicate clearly during the pandemic. This heightened interest in clear communication gives us an extra incentive to get back up and running when the time’s right.

We look forward to celebrating the efforts of so many communicators at such an important time. So hold on to your entries — we won’t be hosting the Awards for a while, but we’ll make sure you can enter projects you’re especially proud of from your work in 2020.

Keep safe and well. And be sure to check in from time to time. We’ll let you know as soon as we’re ready to get rolling again.

Posted In: 2020 Plain English Awards, Industry awards


We're suspending Awards preparations for now. We'll back as soon as the time's right. Image by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash licence

In light of the current situation in New Zealand and around the world, we’ve decided to suspend preparations for this year’s Awards. We’re conscious that people’s health and safety are the priority at the moment, as they are for us at the Awards.

We’ll welcome your entries with open arms when the time is right

We know many of you have already spent time considering and preparing entries for this year’s Awards. Please hold on to those entries!

Although we’re putting preparations on hold for now, we’ll keep a close eye on developments. When the time feels right to proceed again, you’ll be the first to know.

We’re here if you have any questions

You — our readers, past winners, future entrants, supporters — mean a lot to us. We’d be very happy to hear from you if you have any questions. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach us:

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The 2020 Plain English Awards open on 31 March. Image by Kevin Bidwell / Pexels licence

On 31 March 1889 Gustave Eiffel’s tower opened in Paris. On 31 March 1959, the Dalai Lama trekked across the Himalayan Mountains from Lhasa to seek asylum in India. On 31 March 2011, a deadly Egyptian cobra was found alive one week after escaping the reptile house at New York’s Bronx zoo.

On 31 March this year, New Zealand’s Oscars for clear communication turns on the lights and rolls out the fancy carpet for entries in the 2020 Plain English Awards.

Everyone’s a winner

The Awards recognise outstanding efforts in communicating clearly. They’re proof of the power of good communication in doing good.

While the winners get rightful recognition, the real winners are the people and communities who get the information they need. And people feel good when they know what a writer is trying to say and that has their interests at heart.

This year the Plain English Awards has 13 categories open. The Plain English Awards Trust is looking forward to receiving quality entries across all these categories.

Plain English Awards categories

  • Plain English Champion
    • Best Organisation
    • Best Individual or Team
  • Best Plain English Document
    • Public Sector
    • Private Sector
  • Best Plain English Sentence Transformation
  • Best Plain English Annual Report
  • Best Plain English Legal Document
  • Best Plain English Technical Communicator
  • Best Plain English Turnaround
  • People’s Choice
    • Best Plain English Communication
    • Worst Brainstrain Communication

More than prizes

Apart from the accolades and feathers in caps for winning, past finalists have found that they gained a huge amount even from the judges’ comments they received. Feedback from an anonymous survey of entrants referenced the value of this feedback.

‘The judge’s feedback is priceless – WOW… whatever we paid to enter is nothing compared to that feedback document.’

The Awards get great publicity each year and help boost awareness that the public doesn’t need to put up with poorly written information.
Winners also benefit by being seen as an attractive organisation that can lure strong writers and talented team members.

‘It reinforces that we don’t just say that we communicate with people in clear and plain language — that we actually do.’

Image, person sitting at the top of Mount Everest in the snow

It’s clear at the top. Image by Mário Simoes / Flikr licence

You can see your effort has paid off

Writing in plain English and winning an award for your craft can be like mountain climbing. The effort is immense, but the views from the top are crystal clear.

On 29 May 1953 Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mount Everest. And 29 May 2020 is the last day for entries…
Here’s how to enter

Posted In: 2020 Plain English Awards, Industry awards


Hands up who's excited about the upcoming Plain English Awards? Image by Jaime Lopes/Unsplash licence.

We’re encouraged by the amount of interest people are showing in next year’s Awards. We hope this is a sign that our goal of creating a public preference for plain English is working!

So that you’re ready when the time comes, here are the dates you need to know for the 2020 Awards.

  • Entries open: Tuesday, 31 March
  • Entries close: Friday, 29 May
  • Shortlist announced: Thursday, 18 June
  • Finalists announced: Thursday, 23 July
  • Winners announced: Thursday, 20 August

Find out more about entering the 2020 Plain English Awards
Email us to find out about sponsorship options for next year’s Awards

Posted In: 2020 Plain English Awards, Industry awards, Plain English Awards

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