Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist: Best Plain Language Sentence Transformation

Michel Mathew, Auckland Council

The Auckland Council team celebrate their stash of prizes | Michel Mathew, Kulvinder Singh, and Kate Sumner

Document name

Sentence from Industrial and Trade Activity (ITA) business and stormwater

Original sentence

Anything that goes into an outside drain goes directly into your local streams and the sea, sometimes within minutes. Wastewater gets filtered before it goes out to sea, but stormwater does not. Oils, paints, chemicals and other similar substances can have a devastating impact on the natural environment by poisoning waterways, reducing oxygen levels and degrading native habitats.

Rewritten sentence

Chemicals and other hazardous substances entering stormwater drains can have a devastating impact on our environment. Hazardous substances can:

  • poison waterways
  • reduce oxygen levels
  • degrade native habitats.

Judges’ comments

The rewrite’s restructure into bullets makes it much clearer and gives it a much more logical flow. Some secondary information was lost in the brevity, but wasn’t needed. Instead, the writer chose to emphasise the core message within the brief space.

For example, staying with ‘devastating impact’ rather than using something simpler such as ‘harm’ provided the necessary impact to the reader. It illustrates that, in some contexts, emphasis is better than brevity alone.

Media statement

We at the Auckland Council are always focused on creating website content that is simple, clear and unambiguous. Our aim is to communicate in plain language and without the jargon.

I’m thrilled to be selected as a finalist in the Best Plain Language Sentence Transformation category. This is a great acknowledgement of our efforts as a team in creating a plain language website.


Michel Mathew
Content Advisor
Auckland Council