Monday, May 2, 2011

Plain Language Awards

Question: What organizations won the 2011 ClearMark Awards for clear communication and who were “awarded” the WonderMark prize for the worst example of communication?

Answer: The ClearMark and WonderMark awards recognize the best and worst in plain language each year in both private and public sectors. The ClearMark awards honor the best in clear communication and plain language, celebrating documents and Web Sites that succeed in communicating clearly.

The WonderMark awards are for language that is convoluted and just awful legalese that makes our lives so difficult.

The 2011 ClearMark Awards go to the IRS for its Child Tax Credit notification. Also, Texas.Gov; National Archives; IRS Careers; National Cancer Institute; Federal Management Program Training, and the Federal Retirement Thrift Improvement Board.

The WonderMark Grand Prize Winner of awful language is CareFirst explanation of benefits. Other “winners” are Microsoft Software License Terms; “My Pay”; County of Gloucester, NJ election ballot question; and instructions for Installing your car seat from

Comment: For full information on and the reasons for the awards, go to I’m certainly not surprised that Microsoft received the WonderMark award for its licensing language. And, occasionally, I would award a WonderMark for the language in some of the publications of the NCTE. Saw a word the other day that I don’t think I ever heard of, “prolificity.” UGH! RayS.

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