The ClearMark awards recognize the best plain language communication written for consumers. 2016 competition categories include:

Grand ClearMark Winners

Grand ClearMark Award Winner – English

Federal Trade Commission –
Entry 1 (website) | Entry 2 (website) | Read Judges’ comments

Grand ClearMark Award Winner – Spanish

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – Healthy Eating-Spanish
View Entry (pdf) | Read judges’ comments

Category Winners and Finalists

Category: Original Documents

Original Documents – Long

Winner: Aptive Resources – Mended Hearts HeartGuide 

Judges’ Comments:

“I was immediately impressed with the professional look and comprehensiveness of this piece. While it contains complex information on a serious subject, it is organized, written and designed with the patient in mind. I think the product achieves its goal of informing and reassuring patients with an approachable tone. I would definitely use this as an excellent example of effective plain writing and information design.”



AARP Livable Communities – “Imagining Livability Design Guide”
Anthem, Inc. – “Anthem Weight Management Playbook”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina – “Welcome Aboard Booklet for New BCBSNC Members”
Healthwise – “5 Steps for Writing in Plain Language”
Highmark Inc. – “Highmark Blue Edge Dental Sales and Member Toolkit”
Highmark, Inc. –  “Highmark HSA — Member Communications”
Institute for Healthcare Advancement – “Health Insurance: Questions and Answers”
U.S. Energy Information Administration – “2015 EIA Writing Style Guide”
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – “Owning a Home — Know the Process”

Original Documents – Short

Winner: Anthem, Inc – Anthem Well-Infant Direct Mailer

Judges’ Comments:

“I would absolutely use this piece as a example of effective plain writing and information design. I believe it will certainly help Anthem Blue Cross achieve its business goals with the audience of young families the piece targets. By providing this piece which is wholly focused on helping the mother rather than selling the company’s products, it is operationalizing its promise to provide outstanding service and making the customer feel like the center of attention. That is likely to create very good will on the part of the customer and lead to customer loyalty and retention for other company products and services.”



Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan –  “Help Your College Student with their Health Plan”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan – “Health Care Cost Card”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Diabetes Translation “Prediabetes, Diabetes and National Diabetes Prevention Program Infographics”
City of Shaker Heights  – “Let’s Talk Trash…”
Healthwise  – “Diabetes: Your Feelings About Insulin Shots”
KidsHealth, Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media  – “KidsHealth Patient Instructions”
United Healthcare Medicare & Retirement/Insurance Solutions  – “Online Enrollment Abandon Emails”
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health  – “CDC’s Chemical Weapons Elimination Program Infographic”
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service  – “Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza: A Guide To Help You Understand the Response Process”
World Trade Center Health Program, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  – “Were you there?”

Category: Before/After Documents

Before/After Documents – Long

Winner: AARP Livable Communities – AARP HomeFit Guide

Judges’ Comments:

“There is no doubt that the group’s customers are better served by this new format. The entry is an extremely effective example of plain writing and information design. It’s impossible not to engage with the information and start asking yourself all of the important questions raised in the worksheets.”


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts  – “Medicare Options Brochure”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts  – “Quit Tobacco Now Brochure”
Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  – “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, International Office Webpage Redesign”
UnitedHealthcare  – “Getting Started as a Member Guide”

Before/After – Short

Winner: Massachusetts Department of Revenue – Department of Revenue Letter to Taxpayers

Judges’ Comments:

“The revised letter is excellent. It directly focuses on readers, explicitly answering their questions and helping them understand the process. The new structure focuses on the most important ideas, and the improved language lifts the tone and readability.
I have no doubt this letter will create less confusion for taxpayers and less work for Department staff. Congratulations on a great plain English transformation!”


Chase  – “Credit Card Fraud Email Alert”
Minnesota Department of Revenue  – “Federal Offset Letter”
Solstice Benefits, Inc.  – “Solstice Explanation of Benefits Redesign”

Category: Websites

Websites – Long

Winner: Federal Trade Commission – 

Judges’ Comments:

“Based on the research conducted as well as the good use of design principles, I’m confident that target users will be able to find, understand, and act confidently using what they learn on this site. I’d absolutely use it as an example of effective plain writing and information design!”


AARP  – “AARP TEK Academy Social Media Resources”
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry  – “ATSDR Action Model Toolkit”
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Department of Human Health and Services  – “Health Literacy Online: A Guide for Simplifying the User Experience, 2nd edition”

Websites – Short

Winner: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and 18F  – USCIS: Plain-language resources for naturalization

Judges’ Comments:

“A clear winner in this category. The three judges unanimously agreed on most points, and the design and writing exceeded what could be expected. It is particularly nice that a government agency takes this initiative and shows that it really is possible to have clear writing, contemporary design, and a very thorough approach to user-involvement in the processes. An excellent example and a deserved winner.”


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  – “Owning a Home — Know the Process”
Social Security Administration  – “Social Security Home Page Redesign”

Category: Multimedia

Multimedia – Long

Winner: American Academies of Pediatrics – Physical Developmental Delays: What to look for

Judges’ Comments:

“I think this website will do a good job of helping parents identify matters they need to bring to their children’s pediatricians. The animation and video are key assets.”



Emmi  – “Advance Directives EmmiEngage Program”
Health Literacy Missouri  – ““Clayton & Candra Got You Covered!”: A campaign to help enrollment assisters talk to consumers about health insurance”

Multimedia – Short

Winner: Minnesota Department of Revenue – Direct Deposit Campaign

Judges’ Comments:

“This entry made me smile. The video was really well done and had a great tone and clear message. The Web content was short and to the point – very action oriented. It didn’t waste the readers’ time with excess info. The fliers were also short and helpful and I love that the FAQs opened in pop-up windows so you didn’t lose the page and could easily close them. Wonderful job using plain language to communicate with your audience!”


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry  –   “ATSDR “No Trespassing” Initiative”

Category: Legal Documents

Legal – Long

Winner: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Bankruptcy Judges Division – A Plain Language Approach to Simplifying Federal Bankruptcy Forms

Judges’ Comments:

“Overall, this is an amazing job at streamlining and making clear a very complex set of information. In addition, if individual petitioners use this form they will have a much better understanding of the process (from the instructions) and information required on the form. Seeing this form makes one wish other government organizations took such care in creating their forms.”



Legal – Short

Winner: Anthem, Inc. – Anthem 2015 Explanation of Benefits (EOB)

Judges’ Comments:

“This is definitely the best EOB form I have seen. It uses a conversational and “down to earth” tone, with clear sections, directions, and definitions for consumers. But it is still a very complex subject, with some legal terminology in the “fine print” (such as in the codes and at the end of the form), and the acronyms and terminology may be difficult for consumers.”


Aetna  – “Aetna Protected Health Information (PHI) form”

Category: Spanish

Winner: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – Healthy Eating-Spanish

Judges’ Comments:

“The Diabetes Self Management Program (DSME) entry deserves an award.
It follows plain writing principals; it is well structured, using a good balance of text, graphs and images. NYP Hospital could achieve some of its goals using this tool.

The booklet can be a useful tool for patients with diabetes to manage their biggest challenge: eating a healthy diet. The difficult challenge is presented in a positive way.

The action-focused pages could motivate patients take actions, giving readers tools to work on the challenge.”


Massachusetts Department of Public Health – “TB Infection Educational Materials for Refugees and Immigrants”
National Institute of Health, National Eye Institute – “Cómo vivir con Baja Visión Booklet”

ClearMark Sponsors

Solstice Benefits
Communicate Health
Clear Language Group
Redish & Associates, Inc.
Institute for Healthcare Advancement
Plain Language Health
Circuit Media