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21 July 2023

We want you to dob in badly written documents

Plain Language Awards will celebrate clarity and call-out confusing comms.

Have you been reading something lately and found yourself scratching your head? Maybe an insurance document? Or an application form? With your nomination, it could win a Worst Brainstrain Communication award.

That’s one of the categories of this year’s Plain Language Awards. Last year the award was “won” by the Ministry of Social Development for its website about the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme. The nominee was a business owner who said it had been stressful to try and understand. The judges described it as intimidating and authoritarian. One judge said they had to read a paragraph eight times to understand it.

If you happen to have seen a stellar piece of simple writing, there’s also a Best Plain Language Communication award. Wellington City Council took home that trophy last year for a page on its website about when to put out your rubbish and recycling.

This year both those categories will be judged by a panel including our editor Ella Price, who gets all our content into shape once it’s written.

“It’s exciting to be able to help consumers take action against businesses with confusing communication and also celebrate businesses who do a good job of communicating fairly,” Ella said.

The Awards are held annually, and this is the first time since the Plain Language Act came into effect in April. The Act requires all public service and crown agencies to use plain language – including simple words and sentence structures.

Agencies and businesses can enter their own documents and websites for the other 11 award categories.

Important dates for the 2023 Plain Language Awards

  • 31 July: entries close
  • 15 September: finalists announced online
  • 26 October: winners announced at ceremony and online

Make your nomination before entries close on 31 July.

Consumer NZ sponsors the People’s Choice categories of the Plain Language Awards.

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