Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist: People’s Choice — Best Plain English Communication 2017


Document name

Making Sense of Evaluation — a handbook for the social sector

Judges’ comments

This entry was a how-to handbook, which the panelists thought was well crafted.

The design elements matched the points being explained, and the links through the document provided good continuity. Everyone liked the layout and penguin narrative.

Media statement

Evaluation is an area where jargon is rife, and it can also come across as overly technical. Our aim with the handbook was to break down the elements of evaluation, and to explain and illustrate the components in a way that anyone could follow. Our aim was not to make experts, but to help people understand the process of demonstrating the difference they make. We were determined to be clear about the language of evaluation (especially as it uses a lot of everyday words in slightly different ways), and so included a glossary in the handbook. Originally this was designed for the social sector, but we’ve had so much take-up from other people that we’ve re-labelled it ‘for everyone’.

Isabelle Collins, Superu’s evaluation expert and the lead author, came up with the penguin case study as a way to take readers through the thinking needed to do an evaluation. The success of this approach has been a revelation, and shows the impact of grounding theory in a real-life (and cute!) example.

We’re delighted to be finalists in the 2017 Plain English Awards. ‘Making sense of evaluation’ was written and edited in-house, but has benefited from being reviewed by a number of evaluation practitioners and academics. Our design partners, Insight, contributed the illustrations and quirky layout. Throughout the development and publishing process, we were all focused on the importance of communicating clearly and appropriately, and being a finalist in these Awards reflects this.

Dr Malcolm Menzies
Chief Executive