The Joy of Entering the 2009-2010 Competitions

Enter Before November 13!


In the fall, STC chapters hold local competitions. As the 2009-2010 Competitions Manager of the Washington DC chapter, I am continuing the tradition of presenting some of the reasons that you might enjoy entering the competitions.

Would you like to be an award-winning technical communicator? For those of you who haven’t entered before, let me explain the basics. Washington area experts gather to evaluate the entries in the Technical Publications and Online Communication Competitions. Our competitions receive entries from DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as from other states and from other countries. The judges provide written feedback on the strengths of each entry and make recommendations that you can apply in future endeavors.

Some of the joys of entering are the pride you have in putting forth your best work, the validation you feel by being measured against the highest standards in our profession, and the opportunity to receive a knowledgeable and thoughtful critique of your entry. As an entrant, you are proud of your accomplishments. You and the judges realize that the final entry represents months of planning, writing, editing, and publishing. Submitting a publication or online entry is a great way to keep growing in a fast-paced industry. Having your decisions and standards recognized by industry experts is real insider validation!

As an entrant, you’ll be invited to the Awards Celebration, where you will be able to see what others in our field are producing. The Awards Celebration is also the place to network with the technical communication community.

Now is the time to submit your best work to the scrutiny of your fellow professionals. Consider what you want to enter and to get it prepared. Competition rules and entry forms are at Good luck!

Melissa Brown
2009-2010 Competitions Committee Manager

The Joy of Judging in Competitions

Apply Now to be a Judge!


The STC Washington, DC Chapter’s annual Technical Publications and Online Communication Competitions are open to receive entries. Would you like to see them? Are you ready to help evaluate them? If you think you may be, here’s a brief summary of what’s in store.

The Call for Entries in 10 categories of technical communication is sent to potential entrants in early October. This year, the deadline for submission of entries is November 13. The competitions could not be held successfully without the commitment of a group of qualified and enthusiastic judges. The judges are recruited from among professional communicators in the DC area and beyond. Membership in STC for both entrants and judges is common, but not required.

On Saturday, December 5, the judges assemble to receive their judging materials, entries, and instructions. They meet the other members of their judging team, get training from experienced judges on how to evaluate an entry, and have their questions answered. Over the next five weeks, judges read and examine the entries. They discover—or rediscover—the joy of encountering excellence in published manuals, brochures, magazines, help systems, and Web sites. As they begin to form opinions and record their evaluations, the judges apply all the knowledge and experience at their disposal. They prepare their comments for the entrants and a defense of their decisions for the consensus meeting.

On Saturday, January 9, the judges meet again to discuss the entries and decide which ones deserve an award. Some entries stand out as award winners; others elicit debate. The judges relish the opportunity to compare notes on design, presentation of information, layout, and overall quality. By the end of the meeting, a consensus is reached on award levels and the Competition Committee can begin the process of notifying the winners and non-winners, choosing the Best of Show, choosing the Best Student Entry, and sending the very best to the STC International Competition. The judges, both veteran and new, leave with a sense of a job well done. They have judged the work of their peers and shared their passion for excellence in communication. Many will be eager to do it all over again in future years.

If you are ready to experience the joy of judging, we need your help. For more information about judging entries and the types of judges needed, see the Competition website for

  • Call for Judges
  • Judge Application form
  • Schedule for Judges
  • Competition Categories

Thank you!

Melissa Brown
Competitions Committee Manager

Photos from the Competition Awards Celebration

Seventy photos from Saturday, 7 February’s Competition Awards Celebration are on our Flickr account linked to this blog. The current photos posted were taken but the banquet photographer, Melissa Brown, and by Cynthia Lockley. Others are welcome to send us your photos to add to the collection.

The photo album is linked to from the blog. The link for the photo album page is

To see only this year’s Awards Celebration set:
Click on the title of the album set on the Photos page. This will take you to that set on our Flickr account: From there, you can click on individual thumbnails and click on the magnifier “All sizes” in the upper left corner to see different sizes and download a high-res image.