STC’s competition is particularly suited to the work of our editors and graphic designers because very few competitions encompass both editorial and visual quality. It’s also a nice way to recognize our staff and their hard work.
What are the category descriptions? See Competition Categories.
How do I enter the competition? See Entry Submission Instructions.
What are the competition fees? See Schedule and Fees.
What are the awards? See Awards.
What companies and entries have won in the past? See Competition Winners.
Is there a list of all STC chapters holding a competition this year? See other regional competitions.
Where do I go if my question isn’t answered here? See the FAQs.
Instructions & Information
About the Competition
Any person or organization can enter the competition if the submissions are received and paid for by the deadline. You can enter your own work or submit an entry on behalf of a colleague. Submitters and contributors are not required to be STC or Carolina chapter members to participate.
Any printed, online, or electronic work product that contains sufficient technical, scientific, medical, or similar content to qualify as technical communication can be submitted for judging. Competition entries must fall into one of four categories and be received by the deadline. Those who don’t have work to submit may get feedback on their editing skills by entering the ‘Before and After’ competition.
Documents submitted to the competition must be appropriate for public distribution and not contain proprietary or classified material.
All entries must have been produced or substantially revised within the 24 months prior to the submission deadline and cannot have been submitted previously to any STC competition.
For more information, read the competition rules.
Receive recognition for outstanding work effort
Many entries receive one of the three awards (Merit, Excellence, and Distinguished), and all awardees are listed on STC Carolina’s website.
Receive detailed feedback from multiple peer reviewers
Volunteer judges review your entries against a multi-page set of criteria ranging from usability, font and color choices, print production, and many other categories. They provide written feedback – both complimentary and critical – to help you improve.
Justify a budget or process improvement
Judges identify areas where an increased budget or different publishing process could improve the user experience.
Entry Submission Instructions
- Read over the competition rules.
- Decide into which of the following categories you want to submit your entry. See below for complete descriptions of the categories.
- User Support
- Before and After
- Complete the Contact Form. If you are coordinating multiple submissions for your organization, please complete only one contact form for all entries. This identifies you, the submitter, and all contributors to the entry and requests payment before continuing.
- Next you will automatically be directed to the Competition Entry Form. This form is for the specific details about each entry. Each submission must have an entry form as judges will need this information to complete their evaluations.
2023-2024 Fees and Schedule
Fees (early bird: $20 off)
$100 — STC Members
$140 — Non-members
$50 — Full-time students
Schedule (subject to change)
September 18: Competition opens
October 15: Early bird discount deadline ($20 off entry fee)
November 17: Deadline for submitting entries
November 18: Judge Training Day (virtual, 9 AM – noon)
February 2024: Best of Show Judging
March 2024: Competitors notified of awards
June 2024: Awards Banquet
- Informational Materials
- Instructional Materials
- Promotional Materials
- User Support Materials
- Before and After
Informational Materials Category
Informational materials are designed to attract potential buyers while providing information about a technical or scientific subject, product, service, or organization. The materials are intended to inform the user of information without a specific call to action. The materials must persuade the audience favorably toward the subject or sponsor. Visual design, including production, is important. So, too, is editing, because errors are obvious.
Informational materials include:
- Annual Reports
- Error Messages
- Policy and Procedure Manuals
- Research Papers
- Scholarly or Trade News Articles
- Style Guides
- Technical Reports
- Websites (informational)
The Instructional Materials Category includes all entries that train a user or learner on a particular set of skills and knowledge. The materials must persuade the audience favorably toward the subject or sponsor. Visual design, including production, is important. So, too, is editing, because errors are obvious.
Instructional materials include:
- Computer-Based Training (CBT)
- Facilitator or Instructor Guides
- Instructional Animations or Videos
- Mobile Learning
- Student Guides
- Web-Based Training (WBT)
- Webinars (instructional)
The Promotional Category includes all entries that are intended to market or promote a product, service, company, individual, or event while persuading the audience to some action.
Promotional materials include:
- Advertisements (technical)
- Websites (promotional)
The User Support Category includes all entries that provide information needed to help the user perform specific tasks and are intended for independent use by the audience, not in formal training.
User Support Materials include:
- Installation Manuals
- Help (online or embedded)
- Job Aids
- Quick Start Guides
- Reference Documents
- Technical Reference Guides
- User Manuals
STC Carolina is hosting its first annual Before and After Competition. Technical communication students, recent graduates, and professionals of North and South Carolina are invited to submit an entry into the competition. For submission rules for this category, please review the competition rules.
This competition is designed for individuals who do not have an entry of their own to submit but still want to get feedback and possibly an award. Submitters will choose an existing document from the list below to redo based on the intended audience and purpose. Redesigned and re-written entries will judged similarly to the other competition categories, but will be judged against each other. This is a true competition where there will be one winner in each category.
Option 1: Software Documentation
Note: You can pick any section/page at this link, but we recommend 5 or more finished pages. This product’s documentation is user-generated and edits are allowed. We strongly recommend you do not edit their actual content before receiving feedback from the judges.
Option 2: Technical Report
Option 3: UX/UI Design
Documents submitted to the competition are not judged against each other. They are judged against the standards outlined below.
Distinguished Technical Communication (DTC)
Clearly superior in all areas. The entry contains no major flaws and few, if any, minor flaws. It applies the principles of technical communication in an outstanding way, particularly in the way that it anticipates and fulfills the needs of its audience. Distinguished entries in all categories are considered for Best of Show.
Consistently meets high standards in all areas. The entry might contain a single major flaw or a few minor flaws. The entry clearly (if slightly imperfectly) demonstrates an exceptional understanding of technical communication principles.
Consistently meets high standards in most areas. The entry might contain a small number of major or minor flaws, but it still applies technical communication principles in a highly proficient manner.
Before and After
First place and runner up prizes will be awarded in each of the three categories for a total of 6 winners.
If I'm a submitter, am I automatically a contributor?
How do I increase the likelihood of winning?
You increase the chance of winning an award if the judges evaluating your entry have all the information they need to accurately evaluate it. This means that the more complete your Entry Form is, the better. We strongly encourage you to provide as much information as you can on the Competition Entry Description form. In addition, include explanatory text, additional audience descriptions, unusual circumstances or budget restrictions that may have limited your project, and so forth to help judges evaluate your entry in context.
If you created your entry in an Agile environment, be sure to mention that in the Entry Form. What does Agile mean in your environment? Do you finish a module and never go back to it? Did you have time to edit? Briefly describe how you determined a “Good Enough” level for the entry.