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