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Award winners

Many organizations give awards for their writing. We’ve chosen a few examples from the public and private sectors to show you a variety. If you know of another important award we should have on the list, write to us.

  • ClearMark Awards: The Center for Plain Language sets a high standard for clarity and simplicity in the documents created by North American companies, governments, and organizations.

  • Legal Writing Institute Awards: Joe Kimble is chair of the Outreach Committee for the Legal Writing Institute’s Golden Pen Award. This award recognizes people who significantly advance the cause of better legal writing.

  • Burton Awards: The Burton Awards are also for legal writing. They go to partners in law firms and to law-school students who use plain language and avoid archaic, stilted legalese. This foundation works in association with the Library of Congress. Past speakers have included Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, and Paula Zahn.

  • National Institute of Health Awards: The Plain Language Initiative requires the use of plain language in all new documents written for the public, other government groups, and fellow workers. The National Institute of Health Awards recognize employees whose writing is clear and to the point.

No-Gobbledygook awards

During the Clinton Administration, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government awarded one plain language prize (No Gobbledygook Award) a month since the award was established in July 1998 for a total of 17 awards. Vice President Al Gore created the award to recognize federal employees who use plain language in innovative ways after President Clinton issued a June 1998 memorandum directing agencies to write all forms, documents, and letters in plain language.

Read Gore’s announcement speech, which features several before-and-after examples.

  • Award 1: Marthe Kent, OSHA
  • Award 2: Chris Fontecchio and Richard Hoops, Bureau of Land Management
  • Award 3: Jim Harte and Umeki Thorne at the General Services Administration
  • Award 4: Harry Carey and Sara Pratt, Housing and Urban Development Department
  • Award 5: Bessie Berry, USDA
  • Award 6: Donald Jacks and Barbara Patasce, FEMA
  • Award 7: Nancy Smith and Brian Lane, SEC
  • Award 8: Dr. Debra Bowen, Food and Drug Administration
  • Award 9: Melodee Mercer, Chuck Graffam, and Wayne Taylor, Veterans Benefits Administration
  • Award 10: Laurel Eu, Food and Drug Administration
  • Award 11: Dan Clem, NASA
  • Award 12: Marlene Pegg and Maruita Bontz, Social Security Administration
  • Award 13: Sharon L. Natanblut, Food and Drug Administration
  • Award 14: Mary Versailles and Nicole Fredette, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Award 15: Farm Credit Administration