Good, better, best: it's over to the judges to decide | Photo by Canstock
Thanks to all who entered this year’s Awards! After a flurry of last-minute entries, we have handed everything over to our intrepid judging team. All 36 of them!
This year a third of the judges are from New Zealand and the rest are from the US, UK, Australia, and Europe. All are accomplished plain language experts and strong advocates for Ernest Gowers’ advice: ‘Be short, be simple, be human’.
How do our expert independent judges pick their winners? It’s a big job so we thought you’d like to know a bit more about it.
First up, shortlisting
First, our judges read over each entry, carefully checking against the plain language criteria. Then they vote on their shortlist. This all happens independently in the Submittable system, which allows ‘thumbs-up, thumbs-down’ voting.
Next, judges do a detailed review of all entries, writing comments for each of the assessment criteria. Each panel works hard to make sure feedback is balanced, fair, and helpful. The goal at this stage is to recognise and affirm great writing and to help entrants do even better by making suggestions and giving examples for improvement.
We know that entrants really value the expert feedback. For some, it’s the best aspect of entering! Submittable calculates scores for each of the criteria and averages them across the judging panel to help the panel agree on a few contenders for the category awards.
Last, picking the finalists and winners
Now the judges deliberate as a team to pick their finalists and winners — quite a logistics exercise with judges living all over the globe! The deliberation stage can involve lots of lively debate, especially when many entries are of a very high standard!
When judges need to choose between two excellent entries, it usually comes down to impact. Entries where the work has made the greatest positive impact will usually triumph.
When all is agreed, lead judges review the written comments for all shortlisted entries to make extra sure that the comments are clear and helpful.
So if you entered this year, good luck! Regardless of the outcome, you’ve done a good thing and your users are thanking you! (A trophy is good too of course!)
How the judging process works
Judges for the 2022 Plain Language Awards
Posted In: 2022 Plain Language Awards, Judges, Shortlists
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A line-up of the best for 2022 | Photo by Nicola Welby
Congratulations to all our 2021 winners — what a fabulous achievement! Our judges were so impressed with the quality of entries this year and you deserve all the praise you’ve received.
We loved hearing the plain language stories that you shared with us. And we’re proud that you’ve kept the torch burning bright for clear communication in such a busy year. So pat yourselves on the back for a job well done!
Our Awards champions — raising the bar for clear communication
An extra special shoutout to Citizens Advice Bureau New Zealand, winner of the Plain English Champion — Best Organisation category. And another one to Lauren Kelindeman from Legalite in Australia, winner of the Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team category. Your contributions to the plain language movement are making all the difference to the lives of everyone in our corner of the world.
As our founder Lynda Harris said,
Whether you’re a bold visionary, a passionate campaigner, or a quiet doer, you have qualities that the world needs more of. You have stories to tell about people who need clarity and connection. And you have the skills to inspire others to be champions like you.
So keep up the good fight and stand up for what’s right! Because you’re our champions for 2021 and we couldn’t be more proud.
Find out more about the 2021 winners
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It’s time to celebrate! | Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
With preparations for our cyber-ceremony in full swing, you can now register your place to attend.
Register for the 2021 Plain English Awards ceremony
What you can look forward to at this year’s event
This year, for the first time, we’re running our celebrations online. While we’ll miss celebrating with people in person, our aim is to make this year’s event super special in its own way.
Our MC James Elliott is bound to delight
Now in his fifth year as MC of the Awards, lawyer and comedian James Elliott is a firm highlight at our ceremonies. James is back this year and guaranteed to entertain.
Find out more about James
Bring your supporters along — we can host more people online
With no limits to seat numbers, we’d love you to invite as many of your supporters to join you at the ceremony as possible. In the past, we’ve often had to limit spaces to 150 people — but that’s not a problem this year!
Our overseas entrants and supporters can easily join us
We’ve always extended an invitation to our ceremony to both our domestic and international supporters. However, often the overseas contingent isn’t able to make it. Happily (and time differences aside), that’s not a problem this year either!
We opened up entries to Australia for the first time this year
Read about our international panel of judges
Celebrate International Plain Language Week at the same time
Our Awards ceremony is right in the middle of International Plain Language Week. This gives you a readymade way to get involved in an international event that celebrates clarity.
So, don’t hang about — register your place at the 2021 Plain English Awards ceremony
Thanks again to our sponsors for their commitment to the (plain language) cause
We have an incredible line-up of sponsors this year. We’d like to thank them all for their support.
Read about this year’s sponsors
Posted In: 2021 Awards ceremony, 2021 Plain English Awards, Australian clear communication awards, Awards ceremony, Communications, Finalists, Judges, People's Choice awards, Plain English Awards
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Looking forward to celebrating this year’s winners | Photo by Universal Eye on Unsplash
Our international panels of judges have settled on this year’s finalists.
Find out which entries made the grade
So, what made an entry good enough to become a finalist this year? Here’s a taste of what our judges had to say:
[The writer] is fighting against engrained writing attitudes, including in [their] company, which is quite courageous.
I found the content incredibly compelling. The language, structure and visual devices beautifully enhance this detailed and informative content.
The combination of plain writing and relevant graphics make [this document] a joy to read.
[This document] is an excellent example of keeping anxious people informed on a critical topic.
We’re now counting down to our virtual Awards ceremony on Thursday, 14 October, where we’ll announce and celebrate this year’s winners.
Find out more about our ceremony plans
See who entered the Awards in 2021
Meet our judges
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Finalists
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The next step in the Awards process is for our judges to do their jobs as they work towards deciding on this year’s finalists and winners | Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash
Entries for the 2021 Plain English Awards have now closed. But that doesn’t mean things have come to a standstill! Quite the opposite, in fact.
Our judges now get to work
We use an online platform called Submittable to accept entries. Submittable is also the place where our judges review each of these entries. Judging is broken down into several different phases as the judges work their way towards agreeing on a shortlist, finalists, and eventually a category winner.
Read about our fabulous judges
Read about the judging process
When you’ll next hear about entries
Good judging takes time. And given that our panels are made up of experts around the world as well as around New Zealand, our judges have the added ‘hurdle’ of communicating across different time zones.
Once our judges do come to agreement, we’ll publicise their shortlist decisions. Judges will then continue their deliberations and we’ll announce this year’s finalists on Thursday, 16 September. And the big announcement — this year’s Plain English Awards winners — will be made on Thursday, 14 October by our media partner, Newsroom.
To add to these broadcasts, our Awards ambassador, Shelly Davies, will talk about our winning entries on nationwide television in the days after the big announcement.
Thanks for your interest in the 2021 Plain English Awards. You’ll be hearing from us again soon. In the meantime, check out the videos in our gallery and share your plain language story!
How you can keep up-to-date
As always, we’ll continue to publish Awards updates in our website blog. You’ll also be able to keep up-to-date through our social media platforms and our newsletter.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to our newsletter.
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Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Finalists, Judges, Plain English Awards, Shortlists, Winners
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Our judges explain why they love to be involved in the Plain English Awards | Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash
When we surveyed our judges for their top tips for a winning Awards entry, we got some lovely feedback about why they love to judge the Awards. We thought you might like to read it too. Perhaps some of the thoughts here will inspire you to celebrate plain language in your own organisations. And you might feel more inclined to demand clear communication from the organisations you encounter in your daily life.
Our judges love celebrating the use of plain English
Our judges felt that that the Plain English Awards are a fantastic way of encouraging and celebrating plain language in organisations.
As an ardent supporter of clear writing, I’m delighted to support them.
I think we should encourage people to excel in this area.
It’s fun, interesting, and it helps me with my mission: plain language as a human right, world wide!
I’ve been leading workshops on writing in five countries for more than 30 years. Judging the competition has always seemed a natural complement.
I love what Write does and stand for and I think any opportunity to promote plain language is a good opportunity.
It’s incredibly important to recognise good writing in and by organisations because they serve as an example to other organisations. In addition, New Zealand’s Plain English Awards have been a model and inspiration for other awards. I learn so much each time I judge.
To help out the plain English community. To keep in touch with the standard of writing across Aotearoa. And I suppose it’s good to have my name connected with the Awards. It’s certainly ‘on brand’!
From the shadows of legalese to the light of plain language
One of our judges, Jacqueline Stephenson (now a legal and business proofreader and plain language editor), shares some reflections on her years as a practising lawyer in the UK and New Zealand. Why did she write the way she did? And what does plain language in legal writing mean to her now?
Watch Jacqueline Stephenson’s video in our gallery
Awards founder Lynda Harris asks us all to demand clear communication
When Lynda Harris spoke at the Awards ceremony in 2018, she encouraged everyone present to demand clear communication, whether as a writer or a consumer.
So, believing what you do about the power of plain language, my question to you as both writer and consumer is ‘what action can you take that is bigger and bolder than before?’ How can you make your sense of care count?
Read Lynda’s inspiring words from that speech in our 2-part blog.
Care — the shortcut to plain language (part 1 of Lynda’s speech)
Care into action — rewrite or reject! (part 2 of Lynda’s speech)
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Judges, Plain English Awards
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Will you join our prestigious list of winners? | Photo of 2018 Award winners by Rebecca McMillan Photography
We asked past Award winners what appealed to them about entering the Plain English Awards, what advice or feedback they got from the judges, and what tips they’d give to anyone entering this year.
We hope you find these tips useful!
We asked our winners:
- why entering the Awards appealed to them
- what features of their entry the judges appreciated the most
- what they would do differently if they entered the 2021 Awards
- what their top piece of advice was for this year’s entrants.
Why entering the Awards appealed to our past winners
- ‘We knew what we were doing was important and wanted to share that with other people who care about plain English.’ (Plain English Champion winner)
- ‘I met someone years before who’d entered and won an award, so for me it was a development goal to work towards. I wanted to become good enough, consistent enough and confident enough in what I do to deserve one of these awards. I also wanted to connect with people in similar roles to me and support and celebrate their achievements too.’ (Plain English Champion, Best Plain English Sentence Transformation winner)
- ‘I believe plain English is so important in society and I wanted to be a part of making change. I loved the challenge of making a technical document plain!’ (Best Plain English Document — private sector winner)
- ‘I think good technical communication deserves to be celebrated, and I love a challenge! Plus I thought that if I won, the award would look good on my desk and in my CV.’ (Best Plain English Technical Communicator winner)
The judges appreciated easy-to-read letters with a personal tone and clear design
The judges appreciated documents that were well structured and elegantly designed. They appreciated that a team effort often plays a part in improving communication. The judges also felt enthusiasm for plain English coming across in personal tone and were impressed by the entrants’ dedication to using both plain English and smart design to make their organisation’s communications clearer.
Judges also liked seeing great layout, and technical language explained clearly.
One winner said that the most powerful thing they did was include quotes from people on a benefit. ‘We had people thanking us for sending them easy to read and kind letters.’
Our winners said they could always find room for improvement
One said, ‘I’d take everything I’ve learnt since I last entered, and talk about that — the challenges, the new thinking, the lessons learned, the new responsibilities, and the successes.’
‘I would include more about the difference it made to people’, said another.
One entrant entered an instruction manual that was designed for the web, including drop-boxes that opened on click. As this was not a public-facing website, the entrant had to provide the content in Word, which wasn’t ideal. They said that in future they’d choose examples that they could provide in a more accessible format.
Our winners shared their top pieces of advice for someone entering the Awards
- ‘You have to really care about your entry and what you worked on.’
- ‘Structure your supporting evidence well, to make the value you’ve added to plain communication really clear and convincing for the judges.’
- ‘Design is as important as the plain English words used. Your layout is an integral part of plain English, as are any design features used.’
- ‘It sounds obvious, but make sure you read “What you need to know” for the category, and make sure you provide judges with everything they are looking for.’
Some more words of wisdom from our winners
Our winners agreed that ‘plain English is underrated, yet crucially important’. They also felt it was fantastic to be part of the plain English movement.
A plain English document can win your business customers, save readers valuable time, improve your organisation’s credibility, and even save lives.
The Awards recognise that it’s not always easy to keep things simple — our project was really daunting — but it’s so important.
The Awards have a really fantastic celebratory vibe. Even if you don’t win, it’s a great achievement to be a finalist and support other finalists, and to be part of an important movement in New Zealand.
Thanks to all our past winners for their valuable advice! We hope all our entrants get as much out of entering the Awards process as valuable as our past winners have!
Read Trophy Tips: In the words of our judges
Read about past award winners
How to enter the 2021 Plain English Awards
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Plain English Awards, Trophy Tips
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We’re excited to announce that entries are open! | Photo by James Lee on Unsplash
The Awards are officially open for entries in all categories. After a break in 2020, the Awards are back for 2021 — and they’re better than ever! We all saw the amazing benefits of clear and plain communications from the Government and health agencies. This heightened awareness of clear communication has set the scene beautifully for the return of the Plain English Awards.
Here’s what you need to know about the Awards in 2021. We’ve got a new unifying theme for the Awards, a combination of new and familiar judges, and all your favourite categories.
Tell the story of your plain language project
This year we’ve introduced a Story theme — and we’re offering you the chance to share your plain language stories through our video gallery. We’re particularly looking for people in workplaces to share stories about the benefits of their plain language projects. No project is too big or too small!
These stories will inspire others to embrace the benefits of plain language for organisations and their customers. We hope the gallery will become a go-to resource for people to get plain language inspiration.
Our judges and sponsors are joining in the fun as well. You can share a video without needing to enter the Awards. But we hope you’ll feel inspired to enter once you read about the available categories.
Check out the first videos in the gallery
Meet our judging panel
From Dunedin to Denver, Gisborne to Edinburgh, this year’s judging panel is made up of plain language experts from around New Zealand and the world. You’ve met some of them before and others are joining us for the first time in 2021. Together they make up an experienced and insightful team of plain language pros!
Find out more about this year’s judges
Choose your Awards category and get your entry ready
The Awards have a range of categories to suit almost every type of document (and websites).
If you’re starting off or pressed for time, you might consider entering the short and sweet Best Plain English Sentence Transformation. If you’ve transformed a whole document, you might be ready for the Best Plain English Turnaround. You can enter a Best Plain English Document or Website — with a choice of public or private sector.
For specialist business documents, you’ll find a Best Plain English Legal Document category and Best Plain English Annual Report. We’re seeing some of the finest examples of these documents coming through, with the quality of entries rising every year.
Specialist technical communicators have a category just for them. And those working on a team project or an organisation-wide project can enter the Champion categories.
Discover whether you’re a contender for the Champion category
Get some inspiration for the Sentence Transformation category
Review all the categories and find out how to enter
Nominate a best or worst communication
The Awards also include two categories that any member of the public can nominate communications for, to be judged by our People’s Choice judging panel. These are the People’s Choice Best Plain English Communication and the Worst Brainstrain Communication categories. These categories are always lots of fun — we love giving a voice to all of New Zealand.
Read about the People’s Choice in 2019
Get involved in the 2021 People’s Choice awards
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, People's Choice awards, Plain English Awards
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We celebrate the generous support of our friends | Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash
One of the goals behind the Awards is to create a fairer society through improving people’s access to important communications. We acknowledge that this is an ambitious goal, but it’s one that moves a step closer to reality with every bit of support we get.
Among our supporters are our judges, who are all expert plain language specialists from around the world. They seem to come back each year even keener to to help us out again!
Adding to this wonderful level of support, our sponsors are all shining examples from the community of individuals and organisations committed to doing good.
Taking care of our printing needs
For 7 years now, the Wellington branch of printing.com has been one of our loyal sponsors. We feel fortunate to have their support. As their commitment to the Awards, printing.com covers all our printing needs for the Plain English Awards.
‘We see the Awards as being extremely important for supporting the government and business sectors as they continuously improve the way they communicate with the general public of New Zealand,’ says Nathan Jennings, business development manager at printing.com.
Thank you printing.com for your ongoing support. We couldn’t do it without you and all our other friends!
Read about printing.com and our other sponsors
Become a sponsor
Posted In: Communications, Judges, Sponsors, Sponsorship
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