Competition Categories

Information for Entrants

Deadline: is closed

What's New This Year?

Changes to Categories

New subcategories have been added to some categories and subcategory descriptions have been updated.

Changes for International Entries

All Distinguished-award level winners in the WDCB competition will be sent to the STC International Summit Awards (ISA) competition. We have raised our entry fees to better cover the cost of submission to the ISA. The competition managers will ensure that these entries get sent on.

Note: Winners of the Excellence-level award may send their entries on to the ISA, but will need to fill out the paperwork and pay the fees themselves. If you think your entry to our competition is capable of going to the international level, be sure to reserve an additional four (4) copies of your entry to send to the international competition in the Spring.

Entries that are submitted to the STC International Summit Awards must:

Entries that are received at the STC Office will be disqualified.

Entries received without a completed STC ISA submission form will be disqualified.

For the International Summit Awards (ISA) rules and guidelines, download the PDF for the STC ISA General Information and Rules.

Each entry, regardless of delivery medium or format, will be judged in one of the four competition categories:

  1. Informational Materials
  2. Instructional Materials
  3. Promotional Materials
  4. User Support Materials

Category Descriptions

  1. 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
    • Articles
    • Books
    • Error Messages
    • Magazines
    • Newsletters
    • Periodicals
    • Policy and Procedure Manuals
    • Posters
    • Research Papers
    • Scholarly or Trade News Articles
    • Style Guides
    • Technical Reports
    • Videos
    • Informational Websites
    • White Papers
    1. Annual Reports are publications that summarize the activities or financial position of corporations, government agencies, or nonprofit community organizations. "Annual Reports" include reports that comply with the regulations of government agencies such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as reports of unregulated, nonprofit organizations. The design should support the focus and projected image of the entity, and present financial and technical information in a visual manner.
    2. Articles include scholarly articles, professional articles, and trade or news articles.
      1. Scholarly / Professional articles are single articles published in academic or professional journals or in a scholarly book as an original contribution of knowledge.
      2. Trade / News Articles are single articles appearing in trade journals or general interest periodicals and are not original contributions of knowledge.
    3. Books include bound, printed matter and e-books usually sold to the public through a bookseller. For this competition, a book is defined as a lengthy document covering one technical subject that is intended for sale.
    4. Periodicals include magazines, newsletters, and scholarly and professional journals that are printed and bound or published in electronic format.

      IMPORTANT: Submit three consecutive issues as a single entry.
      A periodical published less often than three times a year may be entered as a single issue. Example: submit the Spring, Summer, and Fall 2010 issues of a magazine as one entry (four (4) copies of each issue). Example: submit the 2010 Research Report Summary as one entry (four (4) copies of the single annual issue).

      1. Magazines have features and regular columns in an established format that people recognize. Advertising may or may not be included. They are controlled by identifiable publishers or owners and served by editorial staff. Magazines can contain news and information about an organization, technology, industry, or scientific field. They can serve either an internal, external, special interest, or general public audience.
      2. Newsletters are regularly scheduled publications with brief articles and a flexible format. They generally have lower budgets and fewer pages than magazines and may or may not have photographs and illustrations. Newsletters are generally about a company's or organization's employees or products, and they may be intended for an internal or external audience. Their primary purpose is to deliver information that will interest the reader and promote the interests of the sponsor at the same time.
      3. Scholarly / Professional Journals are serial publications with features and regular columns in established formats that people recognize. Advertising may or may not be included. They are controlled by identifiable publishers and served by editorial staff. Writing style may tend to be relatively formal, and design creativity may be limited, in keeping with standards defined by expectations of the profession. Journals are usually targeted for a limited and specialized audience and typically contain information about research and developments in a particular discipline or profession.
    5. Technical Reports report on scientific or technical efforts, usually aimed at the professional community or a contracting customer or entity.
    6. Internal Organizational Manuals include content and tone that are usually company-dictated. Examples include employee manuals, ethics guidelines, policy and procedure manuals, and style guides.
  2. Instructional Materials Category

    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

    • Elearning
    • Mobile Learning
    • Computer-Based Training (CBT)
    • Web-Based Training (WBT)
    • Facilitator or Instructor Guides
    • Student Guides
    • Instructional Animations or Videos
    • Tutorials
    • Instructional Webinars

    Enter a set of related training materials as a single entry.

    1. Tutorials and Training Guides teach the concepts and procedures for using the main features and capabilities of a product or assist with teaching. They include computer-based training applications, tutorials, online lesson books, and training aids.
    2. Other Training Materials include student guides, tutorials, workbooks, and instructor guides, or sets of these pieces. They should display good use of motivational techniques (cartoon characters, themes, human interest stories, color); have layout or content that readily pulls readers in and keeps them interested in using the materials; have student participation such as exercises; and have mechanisms for learners to check their knowledge such as quizzes and tests.
  3. Promotional Materials Category

    The Promotional Category includes all entries that are intended to market or promote a product, service, company, individual, or event. The materials must persuade the audience to some action, using integrated text and figures.

    Promotional materials include

    • Brochures
    • Catalogs
    • Flyers
    • Technical Advertisements
    • Posters
    • Promotional Websites

    Visual design, including production, is very important. So, too, is editing, because errors are very obvious.

    1. Brochures and Catalogs deliver information about technical products and services. Brochures inform people about a product or the features or benefits of products. Catalogs present large amounts of data in a readable format and provide information on ordering the product or service while being visually pleasing.
    2. Flyers (advertisements, product data sheets, single-unit promotional handouts, and multiple-page publications) market a technical product, service, or organization. Corporate and program identity materials (folders, stationery, logos, etc.) are acceptable if they communicate technical information or images. Do not mount entries larger than 11″ x 17″. Roll up the entry and send in a mailing tube. Smaller physical entries must be mounted if not submitted in electronic format.
    3. Posters support or market an employee campaign, a technical product, an organization, an event, or communicate educational information (as opposed to marketing) about a technical or scientific subject, service, or organization. The entry description should include information about the poster's use. Do not mount entries larger than 11″ x 17″. Roll up the entry and send in a mailing tube. Smaller physical entries must be mounted.
    4. Websites and Videos include those that contain interactive (online) information or non-interactive (static online or print) information that describes or defines the main features of a product or product line.
    5. Self-Contained Audio-Visual Material that is presented on DVD, high-definition video, streaming video, or other media
    6. .

  4. User Support Materials Category

    The User Support Category includes all entries that provide information needed to help the user in performing specific tasks using hardware and / or software. These are intended for independent use by the audience, not in formal training courses.

    User Support Materials include

    • Online Help and Wizards
    • User Manuals
    • Job Aids
    • Quick Start or Reference Guides
    • Reference Documents
    • Installation Manuals
    • Administrator Guides
    • Websites with Product Help

    Enter a multivolume set of related user support items as a single entry (for example; online help plus quick reference card plus system administrator's manual).

    1. Help includes online information that has a primary purpose of providing immediate assistance to individuals while they use a product. It provides information appropriate to the task on an as-needed or as-requested basis. Examples are general help, procedural help, cue cards, examples, performance support, videos, laminated quick reference cards, and integrated user assistance.
    2. Job Aids or Quick Start Guides have the primary purpose of assisting the user to complete a set of tasks or solve a set of problems. Examples are troubleshooting tools, wizards or wizard-like task completion tools, quick start guides, and automated support tools.
    3. Quick References include materials that provide concise reference to essential features of a technical product, service, or subject. The emphasis is on presenting essential information concisely and in a way that it is quick and easy to find. They often contain graphic devices and other job aids to help fulfill their purpose.
    4. Reference Documents have the primary purpose of defining or explaining structure, results, terminology, problems, or parameters. Examples are online dictionaries, glossaries, functional specifications, object descriptions, data structure definitions, encyclopedias, directories, software documentation sets, multivolume reference materials, and videos.
    5. User Guides provide informational or instructional content for using a specific device or application. Examples are administrator guides, computer hardware guides, documentation sets, installation manuals, error message definitions, hardware / software combination guides, non-computer equipment guides, and software application guides.
Last modified: August 23, 2016