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Plain English awards

These awards are for the clearest documents of the year (on any subject).

We do not allow entries for documents that our own staff have worked on. The closing date for entries for the 2013 awards is 29 October. We will contact the winners in November.

Below are the winners for 2012

Dudley Zoological Gardens for 'ZooNooz'.

This is a bright and lively magazine with wide appeal. The articles are short, well illustrated and written in a friendly but informative style.

This magazine just involves the reader in its enthusiasm for the zoo and its inhabitants. It is an excellent example of how language, tone and design can combine to educate and inform in an entertaining and accessible way.

NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County for the Derbyshire Diabetic Eye Screening Service leaflet.

This small leaflet contains well-written, clear instructions for patients who need screening for diabetic retinopathy. The tone is reassuring and the writers avoid medical jargon. There is also an explanation of the follow-up procedure should this be necessary.

We feel the leaflet deserves an award because the standard of writing for a general audience is high and it is well designed with a clear font and good spacing.

Rowallan House for 'Welcome to Rowallan'.

Initially this may seem an unusual choice for a Plain English Award. It is very busy, includes block capitals and passages of italics and has a lively colour scheme. However we feel it is perfect as an introduction to Rowallan for its intended audience – young people who are moving into this small, family style children’s home.

The main text has been written with help from young people to make sure that everyone can understand it and this is reflected in the content. There are also contributions from current residents with their views of the home.

The Scottish Government, Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Division for 'Getting it right for children and families'.

This document explains in clear, unambiguous language how the Scottish Government is making the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child a reality in Scotland.

Under clear headings it explains the work being done and the support being given to ensure all children and young people in Scotland have their rights and views respected.

It explains all this without jargon or government-speak, making sure all parents and those who work with children understand the importance of the skills, knowledge and values (the core skills) they need to support the wellbeing of the next generation.

They manage to do this without resorting to dense language or impenetrable sentences.

The design is bright and attractive and there is plenty of white space to help the readability. There are one or two design issues we wouldn’t recommend such as reversed-out text, but overall there is much to praise in this document.

We see so much public information that excludes the very people it is written for because of the language used. This document proves that it is possible to get over important ideas and information if the writers take the time to consider who they are writing for.

Liverpool Housing Trust for the 'Supported Tenants Handbook'.

This is a well written, well designed handbook which explains to tenants in supported accommodation what services and support they can expect, and it also clearly lays out what tenants can do to make their tenancy run smoothly.

Each page contains information on just one topic (for example, gas safety checks or antisocial behaviour) so the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed by information as they turn the pages. And the Trust should be congratulated for producing a document without jargon or management speak.

Age UK for five booklets:

  • Staying steady
  • Healthy living
  • Advice for carers
  • Caring for your eyes
  • More money in your pocket

Each booklet is well written, clearly presented, attractive and informative. They address the reader directly and the information is easy to understand. They have good contents pages and the page and section headings are clear. The list of useful organisations at the back of each booklet is arranged in alphabetical order and is an excellent guide to further sources of information.

The language is reassuring because the tone is upbeat. The writers give the impression they are speaking directly to the reader, whether a carer or an older person, and the emphasis is on maintaining and improving health where possible.

Overall we feel these booklets are ideal for Age UK’s target audience. They provide important information and guidance in a tone and style that is neither formal nor patronizing, but which provides help and information in a friendly but informative tone.

Tower Hamlets Homes for:

  • Looking after your new kitchen and bathroom
  • Review of the year
  • Open Door

These are excellent publications which contain important information written in a very accessible style. The review is well written and designed and residents were involved in its production. The guide to kitchens and bathrooms has excellent photographs to supplement the written text, and Open Door is a lively publication for residents that is well written and interesting.

All three publications show a commitment to producing publications for residents that are well written and informative.

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