Time to celebrate! Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash
Why do we hold the annual Plain English Awards? What is it exactly that we’re trying to achieve?
Celebrating individuals and organisations that put the needs of their readers first
Everyone’s talking about it — busy people leading busy lives. Everyday people are regularly expected to read what can be critical information in a variety of mediums. But if the information they’re getting is written or presented in a way that makes it difficult to process, essential messages can get lost or muddled.
The Plain English Awards celebrate individuals and organisations that put the needs of their readers first. The Awards aim to:
- improve government and business documents so that all New Zealanders can understand them
- raise public awareness of the need for, and benefits of, plain English
- create a public preference for organisations that choose to communicate in plain English.
How seemingly small changes can make a big difference
Last year Wellington author and writing trainer Simon Hertnon was a judge in the People’s Choice section of the Plain English Awards. He and his panel members chose the winner of the Best People’s Choice — Best Plain English Communication and the People’s Choice — Worst ‘Brainstrain’ Communication.
Simon shared his impression of the two winning entries in his recent blog post about the critical influence of tone in a formal document. Suitable tone is a key component of any plain English document. And last year’s winner of the Best Plain English Communication Award offered a perfect example of how effective good tone can be. The winner of the Brainstrain Award, however, illustrated the alternative.
‘One winning entry illustrated why the default writing style of business and government — which I would characterise as formal, exhaustive, and impersonal — regularly fails to meet the needs of today’s information-overloaded reader,’ Simon says in his blog post.
‘The other winning entry provided an exemplar for what business and government writers can and should do to improve the quality and usefulness of their writing. That is, to employ a familiar, confident, no-nonsense tone.’
Time to get your entries in for the 2017 Awards
Have you submitted your Awards entries yet? Don’t miss out — enter now
Posted In: Plain English Awards
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Calling all champions — it's time to enter the Plain English Awards (Image by Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0))
You definitely don’t want to miss out! Now’s the time to enter the 2017 Plain English Awards. Because who wouldn’t want to be in the running at these prestigious awards?
There’s no need to be shy about entering. Are you worried your content might not be plain enough? That’s a very good sign, because it shows that you care enough to be concerned. You care enough to want to do the best for your reader. You care about clear communication. It shows that you’re a perfectionist — and perfectionists like you are the closet champions we’re looking for.
If you truly care, enter your own or somebody else’s content in this year’s Plain English Awards. The Awards honour those who write plain English.
10 facts about New Zealand’s Plain English Awards
- Entries close in 3 weeks, on 31 August 2017.
- Most people don’t think they are good enough to enter — so seize the advantage!
- No entry has ever been perfect — perfection is not possible.
- The judges are impressed by effort, and delighted by every clear document.
- The only documents publicly criticised are those in the Brainstrain Award.
- You can enter a document, a website — or just a single sentence.
- You can enter other people’s work in the People’s Choice category.
- The premier prize is worth $5,000.
- The Awards have been running for 12 years.
- The awards are a not-for-profit event hosted by the WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust.
Enter the Awards here
Posted In: Communications
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Immigration New Zealand is supporting clear communications for new and not-so-new New Zealanders by sponsoring the Best Plain English Turnaround Award in 2017.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) understands how important it is to use plain English. INZ helps migrants to get established in New Zealand. By providing newcomers with clear information and services, we can help them to successfully settle and contribute to our communities.
Immigration New Zealand is keen to encourage the use of plain English as a common practice in our country.
Judi Altinkaya, National Manager, Migrant Settlement explains:
With more than a quarter of New Zealand’s population born abroad, not everyone understands English well. It’s important for people whose jobs involve communications to keep this in mind.
For migrants new to New Zealand, the quality of information they receive as they settle into their new lives here can make all the difference. The more that New Zealand organisations deliver that information effectively, in plain English, the more we can facilitate a smoother settlement process for newcomers.
Immigration New Zealand is keeping it clear
In August 2016, INZ launched Keeping it Clear. This online resource is designed to help organisations present their information more clearly so that it is easily understood by the growing proportion of new migrants in New Zealand.
We think the aim of these resources and the aim of the Plain English Awards are a natural fit!
What’s the Turnaround Award all about?
The Best Plain English Turnaround Award recognises the best rewrite of a document or website that was originally difficult to understand but has been significantly improved by adopting a plain English approach.
The Best Plain English Turnaround Award is open to all forms of communication, whether online, in print, or video.
Entries close on 31 August, with the awards to be announced on at the Awards ceremony on 23 November at the Royal Society of New Zealand’s premises in Wellington.
Thanks, Immigration New Zealand
We couldn’t do it without you!
Posted In: Plain English Awards
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