Plain English Awards

celebrate New Zealand's clearest communicators

Winner: Best Plain English Technical Communicator 2017

Louisa Eades, Streamliners

Former TechCommNZ president Emma Harding, left, and Best Technical Communicator winner, Louisa Eades


Judges’ comment

Feedback on the three documents submitted as part of this entry included:

  • This document does a good job of presenting instructions to an expert audience in an engaging and light-hearted way.
  • This is a competent piece of technical writing. It is a clear set of instructions to operate the devices. The use of images to show the feature being discussed means the reader can find it easily.
  • The report follows a logical structure that makes sense for the meeting report genre. The overall effect of the structure is that the reader is left with a clear core message, a reason to care, and a path of action.

Media statement

It is an honour to win the Best Plain English Technical Communicator Award 2017. I’d like to share this honour with my employer, Streamliners. I’ve been a professional writer for 27 years, but it wasn’t until I joined Streamliners 4 years ago that I learnt how to be a technical communicator.

As a technical communicator, it’s important to make judicious use of the principles of clear and unambiguous language. Or, as I like to put it, use plain English.

It’s also important get into your reader’s skin for a while. I love the vastness of English language as much as anyone, and enjoy playing with curious words. But technical communication has one purpose — to give the reader the information they need as clearly, concisely, and accurately as possible.

At Streamliners, we write for a wide range of readers — brain surgeons, building consent officers, and baler salespeople, to name a few. But they all have something in common — they are bombarded with information, they have limited time, and they just want to get the job done.

Technical communication is a job where less is more and simpler is better. If your reader has to search the internet for the meaning of a word, or read a sentence three times to understand it, you’ve failed.

Technical communication is finally getting the recognition it deserves as a skilled and valuable profession. Anyone can write, but not everyone can clearly communicate technical stuff to the people who need to understand it. My thanks go to the WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust for recognising this with an award, and to TechCommNZ for sponsoring it.

Louisa Eades, Manager, Corporate Docs