Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators


Last year's Plain English Champion — Best Organisation winners Hannah Morgan-Stone, left, William Meldrum, second from right, and Jerome Chapman, from Utilities Disputes, with Write CEO Lynda Harris. Photo by A Beautiful Photo.

We’re grateful this year to once again have the support of TechCommNZ, who’s sponsoring our Best Plain English Technical Communicator category. As part of their sponsorship, TechCommNZ recently published an article we wrote for them about our Trophy Tips Seminar. With their blessing, here’s that same article for your reading pleasure.

Winning an award is the best way to have your work recognised — or your team’s. And for business or technical writers, or people working in communications, the annual Plain English Awards are as good as it gets.

Tips for success from those in the know

In the build-up to the opening of this year’s Plain English Awards, we held a Trophy Tips Seminar in Wellington last month. We also broadcast this seminar through Facebook Live.

Before the seminar, we surveyed former winners and judges of the Awards to gather some tips for aspiring winners. While responses varied slightly, their main messages were clear and simple.

Best advice for aspiring winners

In short, the people we surveyed said that winning entries demonstrated similar traits.

  • Short sentences
  • Crystal-clear headings
  • Readers’ needs prioritised

Common mistakes to avoid

To ensure your entry gets through the first phase of judging, survey respondents recommended that entrants avoid some common pitfalls.

  • Unclear headings
  • Long-windedness
  • Excessive wordiness
  • Poorly organised content

For more tips on how to submit a winning entry in the 2018 Plain English Awards, view our Trophy Tips Seminar.

Get in touch if you have any questions

You’re welcome to ask questions at any time: We’re here to help! See more about the Awards on our website.

Posted In: 2018 Plain English Awards, Plain English Awards, Trophy Tips Seminar

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A beautiful handmade trophy is one of several prizes in store for Accuro Health Insurance. Image by A Beautiful Photo

Our rights and obligations are enshrined in the law. But we can’t claim those rights or fulfil those obligations if we don’t understand them. Understanding truly is power. It unlocks our democratic rights.

That fact is recognised in the Plain English Awards category, Best Plain English Legal Document.

Last year’s winner sets the standard for legal drafting

The document that won last year was a mammoth effort. A team from the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) combined twelve Acts into one: the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017.

The judges said, ‘Parliamentary Counsel Office did a great job of combining multiple acts that were a confusing hodgepodge of legislation into a single intelligible act.

‘A clear understanding of the audience and consultation with these groups made the project stronger. The explanations in the legislation were particularly useful.

‘The revised Act is a great step forward in New Zealand for plain English legislation. And the intended audience has a much clearer picture of contractual law in New Zealand.’

You can enter any kind of legal document

Are you thinking of entering this Awards category? The 2017 winner is a hard act to follow, but don’t feel you have to try, says Awards organiser Melissa Mebus.

‘Any kind of legal document is worth entering — whether it’s long and complex or short and simple. The important thing is that it’s about a legally enforceable law, process, obligation, or right. Examples are contracts, T&Cs, notices, and legal opinions.’

Plain English legal writing brings business benefits

The tide is turning in favour of plain English in legal writing in New Zealand and overseas. Plain language practices report happier clients and increased business. And plain English can bring unforeseen benefits, with more clients meeting deadlines just one example.

One document, two entries

The PCO team also entered the rewritten Act in the Best Plain English Turnaround category, where it was shortlisted. Melissa says, ‘We welcome multiple entries for the same document. A good document or website can tick many plain English boxes, and should get the recognition it deserves.’

To enter, you have to submit the original document or webpage as well as the rewrite. The rewrite must be in current use.

Improve your chances of winning an award

Find out how to give winning your best shot at the Awards Trophy Tips Seminar on Friday, 4 May. You’ll get expert advice from past winners, judges, and supporters of the Awards. Attendance is free — book for the Trophy Tips Seminar online.

Entries now open on Monday, 7 May

We said we’d open on 1 May but we need a little bit of extra time as we upgrade to a new entry platform. Watch for entries opening next Monday, 7 May. Entries close on Friday, 31 August.

Posted In: 2018 Plain English Awards, Finalists, Legal writing, Plain English Awards, Trophy Tips Seminar

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Learn tips from the experts on how to win. Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

On Friday, 4 May we’ll be celebrating entries opening for this year’s Awards with a free lunchtime seminar at Write Limited in Wellington.

Hear how to be a winner from the experts

We’ve gathered together a panel of experts to give you tips on how to submit a winning entry. You’ll get expert advice from past winners, judges, and supporters of the Awards, upping your chances of a successful entry.

During the seminar our panel will explain:

  • what judges look for in a winning entry
  • what’s involved in submitting an entry
  • what winning an Award means for an individual or organisation
  • why every entry plays an important part in helping everyday New Zealanders.

Book your tickets now

You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions. Bring your own lunch — we’ll supply coffee, tea, juice, and fruit.

Places are limited so book your tickets now. Entry by koha.

Posted In: 2018 Plain English Awards, Plain English Awards, Social good, Trophy Tips Seminar

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