Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Trophy tips for the Plain Language Awards

How to make the most of entering the Awards

Here’s some inside information for people thinking of entering the Plain Language Awards.

However, it’s no secret what the judges are looking for! What excites them the most is to see a document or website that meets the plain language criteria to a very high standard.

Trophy Tips Q&A webinar

We quizzed Head Judge Simon Hertnon on the best way to take home a trophy. Watch the recording at the link below. If you have any other questions about entering the Awards, email us at

Watch the Q&A

How the judging process works

When they review the entries, the judges use Submittable — the same platform you’ll use to submit your entries. Submittable enables the judges to record their feedback and rate the entries.

Read more about the judging process

Meet the judges for the 2023 Awards

How the judges assess the entries

Here are the broad ratings the judges use, starting from the highest rating and moving to the lowest.

Excellent — Thought-provoking and inspiring

Plain language principles are applied consistently and well. We discovered new ideas and strategies from this entry that we want to use in our own work. We want to tell other people about this entry and think readers and users will tell other people too. We can see the positive impact of this entry for the organisation or its customers.

Very good — Solid use of principles

Applies principles consistently and effectively. Changes we might make would fall into the polishing or nit-picking category. They are unlikely to change the impact of the entry overall. This is a very strong example, but it didn’t inspire us to say ‘Wow! Look at this one!’

Good — Uses some plain language principles but misses subtleties

Mainly uses plain language principles but misses subtleties and opportunities. The entry may get the point across, but putting more focus on plain language principles could measurably improve it .

Fair — Inconsistent use of plain language principles

Uses some plain language principles, but misses other critical ones. May misapply or over-apply strategies. The authors may benefit from training and mentoring.

Poor — Poor or no use of principles

The poor use of plain language principles in this entry interferes with readers’ ability to understand and act on the information. If testing was done, it seems to have had little or no impact on the final version.

Read about the plain language criteria

Read about the user-testing criteria

Get your copy of the Write Plain Language Standard

More Trophy Tips

You’ll get lots of tips for bringing home a trophy if you read the judges comments and the media releases of previous winners and finalists.

Meet the 2023 winners and finalists

And read one of our blog posts with some useful summaries below:

Trophy Tips: In the words of our judges

Trophy Tips: Top tips from past winners

Ready to enter?

First read the requirements for each category carefully, then head over to Submittable to enter!

Check out the categories and requirements for the Awards