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Azbee Awards of Excellence Competition Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question about the Azbee Awards, please check these FAQs to see if your question is listed. If not, please reach out to the Azbees Awards coordinator, Jessi Marie McCarthy, at (727) 553-4214 or info@asbpe.org.

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Q. Who is eligible to enter?
Please view our eligibility requirements.

Q. I need to know if our magazine is a member of ASBPE.
A. Neither magazines nor publishing companies are members of ASBPE. We are a professional society of more than 1,000 editors, writers, designers, and freelancers who work on business, trade, and association magazines, newsletters, business journals/newspapers, and digital publications. Membership is by individual only. The individual submitter must be an ASBPE member to get the discount and only the publication that the ASBPE member works on may get the discount. Membership is free, and you can join via an online form.


Q. What forms of payment do you accept?
A. We accept PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, Discover Card, and American Express. All entries must be paid for online.

Q. I have created an online account, but I have not found an online payment form. Where is it?
A. You will be taken to the checkout form after you have submitted all your entries and placed them in your Cart. You can pay for all of your entries at once.

Q. When will my credit card be charged? Will I receive a receipt?
A. When you submit the checkout form, your credit card will be charged immediately. An invoice formatted as a PDF file will be available to download and print.

Award Notifications

Q. How will I know if I won?
A. Finalists will be notified individually via e-mail once the judging is completed. Once all finalists have been notified, a summary email with a list of all finalists will be sent to all entrants and ASBPE members. The list of finalists also will be posted on ASBPE’s website.

The Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners will be announced in person at the ASBPE national and regional award banquets. The national banquet is held in conjunction with the ASBPE National Conference. Please visit the Events page for our current calendar.

Q. Do you have award logos that can be used in our publication mastheads and other promotional materials?
A. Yes. Each year after our awards banquet, we post Azbee winner logos on our website. We also e-mail the submitter of your entry forms telling that person where to find them. 


Q. I won a regional award. Does that mean I am moving on to the national competition?
A. Here’s how it works. All entries for a given category are automatically entered into the national competition and the regional competition for that category. The top scoring entries overall will receive the Gold, Silver, and Bronze national awards. The top scoring entries in each region will receive the regional awards. Read more about the regions.

Q. What categories are eligible only for national awards?
A. The Magazine of the Year, Website of the Year, Newsletter of the Year, and Multi-Platform Package of the Year categories honor only national winners, not winners per region. All other categories receive both national- and regional-level awards. At the discretion of the judges and competition management, sometimes a few other categories might only have national winners.

Q. How are the entries judged?
A. Each category is judged by at least two separate judges depending on the number of entries in a given category and the importance of the category. For example, in our Magazine of the Year award, we have had as many as 12 judges.

Our judges are business publication editors and writers, designers, consultants, and academics who are on the front lines doing hands-on business publication editorial and design work. Truly your peers. They are not glamour people.

In most cases, judges have at least a month to evaluate the entries. Their scores are averaged together to get one complete score per entry.

Our judging criteria are second to none. Each category is judged on at least four or five major criteria, which are listed in the Call for Entries brochure. However, each of these has important “sub-criteria.”

Significantly, most of our editorial categories have a design/presentation component, and our design categories have an important editorial component. You can’t have one without the other, if you want to communicate clearly and quickly. For example, you might have a great looking cover, but if the cover lines are not well written, then a judge might argue that the cover was ineffective.

The judge’s decisions are final.

Q. How many people actually judge the entries to ensure that the decisions are unbiased? Because the trade editorial community is close-knit, we wanted to make sure personal experiences with editors, both positive and negative, would not be a factor (whether intentional or not) in the decision process.
A. Each year we have more than 80 people judging our competition. At least two people judge every category. Some categories have more judges. No one may judge a category they have entered themselves. It is always possible in any contest, no matter how it is done, that some judges might know some of the people who have entered. The judges understand the bias issue, and they evaluate the entries professionally.

Q. Do the judges change each year?
A. Generally, about half the judges change each year. We try to balance continuity with fresh perspectives, but in all cases the judges are thoroughly qualified. We are always looking for new, experienced people. If you wish to be considered, please submit the judging sign-up form.

Q: How long does it take to judge a category for the Azbees, and how is it done? 
A: The number of entries in each category can vary widely, and some judges may take longer than others to judge a particular category. Judges can log on to the Open Water system to judge entries and can do it from the comfort of their own home for most categories. The judging criteria for each category is strictly confidential. 

Q: How can I connect with my fellow judge? 
A: We will provide you with the email address and phone number for the other judge in your category. That way, you can reach out to him or her, discuss the entries, and talk about the top scoring entries in each category. 

Q: What if I feel like my entry has been submitted into the wrong category? 
A: Please reach out to the Azbees awards coordinator, Jessi Marie McCarthy, at (727) 553-4214 or info@asbpe.org. She will then consult with the ASBPE awards committee to make the final determination and move the entry to a new category if warranted. 

Q: How do I find out what entries were selected as the winners of the category I judged?
A: ASBPE will create an online winners' gallery for the regional and national winners for each category. Please check back on the website following the announcement of the winners after the national banquet. 

Q: How do I submit scores once I am finished judging? 
A: Rather than sending an email to the ASBPE coordinator, judges can finalize their scores directly in the online judging system. The awards committee and management staff will then review the scores and determine the winners for each category and division. 

Q: Who is in charge of judges for the ASBPE competition? 
A: As of the 2017 contest, ASBPE appoints lead judges who will work with the other judges to make sure they have everything they need and are able to meet the judging deadline. The lead judges will work in conjunction with the awards committee volunteers and ASBPE management.

Q: How can I find out how many entries are in a particular category? 
A: While ASBPE will announce the total number of entries, we will not divulge the number of entries in any particular category. 
Submission & Category Questions

Q. We have a print feature we would like to enter, written for the magazine, but later running on our website. Can we enter that?
A. Yes, you may enter the print article in the appropriate category in the Print division, provided it is published in the magazine first. But you may not enter it in a category in the Online division. It may be entered in the Design division, however.

Q. We have an end-of-year issue that has a cover date of 2017/2018. Can this issue be entered in the 2018 Azbee Awards program?
A. The rules call require that the issue date (cover date) be within the entry year, not the mail date or printing date or publishing date (whatever that is). In this specific case, in which the issue date spans two different years, you may enter whichever one was mailed in 2017. If we didn’t say mail date in this very specific instance, it is possible the same materials could be entered twice, in two different years, which would not be appropriate.

Q. The issue date rule seems clear; however, we have a quarterly magazine that bears an issue date of Winter 2018, but was published (mailed) in late December 2017. I want to make sure that the content for this issue would only be eligible in next year’s competition. Please clarify.
A. If issue date on the cover says January 2018 or Winter 2018, that is not acceptable to enter into the 2018 Azbees, since the eligible entry dates are Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2017. Enter it next year.

Q. If a person is no longer with a company but wrote an article worthy of submitting for an award, may that person still enter the article or section in the contest?
A. Yes. But it would be considerate for you to tell the editor of the publication that you are entering the material.

Q. We have a new department on original research. Should we enter this in the Regular Department category or the Original Research category?
A. The answer to this is determined by your calling the entry a department, rather than a feature article. The Original Research category calls for the original research to be in the form of a feature article. However, this original research article still may be appropriately entered in the Regular Department category.

Q. We are an association magazine and want to enter the Regular Column category but don’t know which one, the Staff-Written or the Contributed. Our writer is a staff person for the association and is listed on the magazine masthead as such, but is not an editorial staff person of the magazine itself.
A. This entry should be submitted in the Regular Column-Contributed category because the writer is not on the editorial staff of the publication.

Q. What is the difference between a Regular Column, Staff-Written, and an Editorial/Editor’s Letter? Can a chief editor enter the Regular Column, Staff-Written category, or is this meant only for other staff editors? That category says: “columns should interpret or comment on issues pertinent to the magazine’s readers.” Can’t that also describe an editorial?
A. Yes, this appears to be confusing. However, there is a major difference between an editorial and a regular column, staff-written. The editorial is a column that provides the viewpoint of the magazine itself, not of the individual who writes it, much like in a newspaper. In a magazine, the top editor on staff would usually write the editorial, but it could be written by the publisher as well, or the executive director of an association in the case of an association magazine.

We established the Regular Column, Staff-Written category because we realize that editorial staff members (even the top editor) may also write a personal column that could be rewarded. And yes, the content of each may be virtually the same.

Q. If I enter a column as staff written, might it get moved over to the Editorial/Editor’s Letter category? Does the contest chair make the decision? The contest judges? The ASBPE staff? If I enter one category and it gets switched to another, am I notified? Can I withdraw my entry and get a refund of the entry fees?
A. If you enter a column as staff written, it would be highly unlikely that it would get moved over to the Editorial category. It’s your call as an entrant to make the right entry decision, not ASBPE’s.

However, ASBPE does reserve the right to move an entry from one category to another, if appropriate. Sometimes people do enter the wrong categories, but it is very, very rare. The judges and contest chair would make the decision. We don’t normally inform the entrant in advance, because of time issues, etc., but if the entrant won in the new category, of course, we notify then. Entry fees are not refundable.

Q. Can a news section be entered in the Regular Department category?
A. No. There is a special category for news sections.

Q. It says in the rules that you may not submit the same material in more than one category. Is that just within Print and Design, or between those overall categories too? Meaning, if I submit something for the “Feature Article” category under Print, does that mean I can’t submit the same article for “Feature Article” under Design?
A. If you had a case history article, you could conceivably enter it into either the feature article or the case history categories, but not both. However, it should be entered in the Case History category so that we are judging “apples to apples.”

If you have a feature article, you may enter the article in both the Print Feature category and the Design Feature article categories. You may cross “divisions” or sections of the awards — that is, the Print vs. Design divisions.

If you enter the Magazine of the Year category, you may submit any part of any of the submitted issues in another Print or Design category. Remember that the Magazine of the Year category is limited to one entry per magazine.

These crossover issues only apply to print magazines entered in the Magazine of the Year category and the Print and Design divisions. Newsletter submissions are not allowed to cross over into another division.

Q. Are “advertorials” accepted in editorial and design categories? How do you define “advertorial”?
A. Yes, but only if the editorial and design staff had complete editorial and design control over the section or supplement. The best definition of “advertorials,” including special advertising sections or special advertising supplements, can be found at the ASME website

Q. Would an article, story, etc. written by one of a magazine’s advertiser, or someone employed by a one of a magazine’s advertisers, be eligible for any of your editorial or design awards?
A. Given the answer above, this might sound contradictory, but such an entry may be eligible. Many editors often ask a representative of one of their magazine’s advertisers to write an article. This is especially true in smaller technical publications because the advertiser has the technical expertise to write on the topic. In this case, however, the editor has complete control over the article’s development, writing, editing, and presentation.

This kind of article may be submitted in the appropriate categories.

Q. Regarding the Original Research category, we do an annual study that has grown so large that we now publish it in two parts. Should both those parts be submitted as one, or would that be considered two separate articles for the purpose ofthese awards?
A. Given the category description, it should be one article.

Q. Can I submit one story from a special section or feature series package in the Feature Article category?
A. Yes, you may submit one of the articles in the series or special section in the Feature Article category. If it were not part of a series or a special section, however, you would only be allowed to submit an article in one category from the Print division.

Q. We have three feature stories packaged under a single theme in one issue (10 pages total). The Feature Article category refers to submitting one story, but the Feature Series category refers to being in multiple issues. How should we submit this?
A. A single-theme package of features from a single issue should be submitted in the Special Section category. The Feature Series category is specifically for a series that appeared in multiple issues.

Q. Can we submit one of the features in a single-article category such as Feature Article or Case History and also submit the entire series in the Feature Series or Special Section category?
A. You may not enter the three in the Series or Special Section category and then enter single articles from the series in another editorial category. If two of the articles can be considered sidebars, then the article should be entered in a single-article category and not in the Feature Series or Special Section category.

Q. We devoted an entire issue to a single theme. Since all the stories appeared in one issue and the entire issue was entirely devoted to one subject, it doesn’t qualify as a Feature Series, a Special Section, or a Special Supplement according to those categories’ descriptions. Where can I enter these stories?
A. You can enter up to five of the articles into the new "Single Topic Coverage by a Team" Print division category.

Q. My question relates to the Individual Profile category: If the story is a legitimate profile piece but profiles three individuals, all of whom share oversight of a single company, may it be entered in the Company Profile category? Or must it be entered as a Feature Article instead?
A. Please enter it into our new category, Group Profile, since you are profiling more than one person. 

Q: For the Magazine Redesign and Newspaper Redesign categories, does the redesigned issue submitted have to be the very first issue of the redesign?
A: Yes. It must be the first issue of the redesign. The design may have been tweaked in subsequent issues. If everyone enters the first redesigned issue its a fairer comparison. The exception would be if the first redesigned issue were a special issue or directory (see next question).

Q. Regarding the Magazine Redesign and Newspaper Redesign categories, the rules say to enter the first issue of the redesign and the issue immediately prior to the redesign. It also states that if the issue prior to the redesign is a directory, the issue before that should be submitted instead. If the first issue of the redesign was a special issue in which certain departments and other content don’t match what is in the issue immediately prior to the redesign, should I enter the last issue before the redesign and the second issue of the redesign (the first issue after the special issue)? Or should I just enter the first issue of the redesign, even though it was a special issue?
A. The purpose of this category is to be able to judge regular, not special, issues. In this case, you should enter the first regular issue showing the redesign and the last regular issue of the old design. Be sure to say what you are doing in your 250-word statement so that the judges will understand.

Q. Would a themed issue that is tied to various department sections in the publication qualify in the Special Section category? For example, we have feature stories running throughout the book in various department sections on a single theme. The issue also features a cover story on the topic. These stories are clearly tied together with a logo. However, they are not packaged together as one whole special section.
A. All your articles would not qualify as a special section because all the articles are not packaged together as a section and some of them are apparently departments. The Special Section category is for feature articles appearing together in a section. However, if you have two features packaged next to each other, then those could be submitted in the special section category.

Q. In the Overall Headline Writing category, may we include headlines from News Analysis category stories or department and opinion-column headlines?
A. You may enter News Analysis headlines, but not headlines in departments or columns.

Entry Preparation, Forms, Shipping

Q. What files should I prepare for my submission?
A. You will need the following:

  • Answers to two essay questions (which can be saved as a draft to return to at a later time):
    • Please describe the publication's mission and readership. 
    • Please discuss the enterprising work that went into this entry and its significance or impact on readers.
  • PDF or JPG of your full entry files, if required by the category you're entering. If you're entering a category for an individual article or web page, then submit a PDF or JPG of that page. If you're entering a category that requires full magazine issues, then please submit each issue as a separate PDF file.
  • JPG of your publication or website's logo.
  • JPG showcasing your entry to be used in winners' PowerPoint presentation during regional and national banquets, if you're chosen as a winner. Horizontal orientation is recommended.
  • Category-specific entry file requirements:
    • If you are entering the E-Newsletter-General Interest category, you'll be required to send a copy of your e-mail to an ASBPE e-mail account.
    • If you are entering one of the following five categories, you'll be required to mail hard copies of your publication to ASBPE:
      • Magazine of the Year
      • Magazine Design
      • Magazine Redesign
      • Newspaper Design
      • Newspaper Redesign

More information about the specific files required is explained in detail during the entry process and is customized based on the category you select.

Q. What types of PDFs are required for online entry?
A. We require low-resolution PDF files (RGB color) that are 72-96 ppi (pixels per inch) and file size small enough to download quickly at broadband-like speeds, viewed on a computer monitor for judging and a projector during awards banquet (maximum image size: 8 inches wide), and/or emailed (maximum file size: 8 MB; preferred: less than 1 MB). From QuarkXPress, make PDFs “medium quality, low resolution”; from Adobe InDesign or Distiller, use “smallest file size.”

Q. Are digital files mandatory for any electronically submitted Azbee Award entry, or can we send in hard copies? And what’s the procedure for that?
A. All entries submitted require digital entry files to be uploaded. But there are some categories that will instruct you to print a copy of your invoice to submit along with your hard copy. These categories are Magazine of the Year, Magazine Design, Magazine Redesign, Newspaper Design and Newspaper Redesign. All other categories do not allow mailed-in submissions, only digital PDF uploads.

Q. Why do I have to mail in so many copies of my entry in separate envelopes?
A. Envelopes are forwarded to multiple judges, so each envelope should function as one complete entry. Most mailed-in entries require three copies per issue.

Q. Is it OK to submit a PDF for a print editorial entry from a tabloid? Will a printout of such a file be shrunk down and too hard to read?
A. It is acceptable to enter a PDF from either a tabloid-sized or regular-sized publication. It will be up to the individual judges whether they choose to print off the entries or look at them on their computer screens. If the judges choose to print the PDFs, the judges will do so realizing that some of the quality and/or size may be lost in the printing.

Q. The entry fee covers just one entry, correct? So, if I wanted to submit two entries for the category of How-To Article, it would be double regular the entry fee?
A. Yes, that is correct. The fees are per entry.

Q. Will ASBPE confirm that it has received my shipment?
A: Due to the high number of entries, ASBPE is not able to confirm each shipment received. We always suggest that entrants ship their submissions via a service that provides a tracking mechanism. Another method is to purchase the “return receipt requested” service from the Post Office. 

Q: What if I change jobs or move after I enter the Azbees?
A. If you win an award but are not able to attend a regional or national banquet and your address has changed, please send an email to info@asbpe.org with an alternate shipping address. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the entry, and the publication or website that the award is associated with. 

Submitting Entries Online

Q. Who needs to create an ASBPE Azbee Awards entry system account?
A. Anyone using the ASBPE entry system — whether a member of ASBPE or a non-member — needs to create an online account. The online entry system database is separate from the member database. Once a competition account is created, the individual entering will be able to complete all entries without filling in his or her basic information each time. The process will also help publications keep their entries together and pay for all entries at one time. Publications may submit unlimited additional entries, prior to the deadline, once an initial competition account is created. You can also complete the checkout process multiple times, if you wish.

Q. Online submission rules for print entries are calling for a “low-resolution PDF.” Does it refer to the size of the file and if so, what is the allowable size?
A. “Low resolution” refers to the quality of the image and consequent file size (in terms of bytes, not the height and width of the image itself). So, “low resolution” means we’d like your submissions to be 72-96 dpi/ppi (dots/pixels per inch) so that they may be viewed on a website, for example.

Q. Is there any way to edit entries after they are submitted online — for instance, if I have made mistakes on names or categories?
A. You may save in-progress drafts and edit entries only if you have not completed the payment/checkout process. Once you finish the checkout process, you may submit new entries but not edit previously submitted entries.

Q. I have created an online account, but I have not found an online payment form. Where is it?
A. You will be taken to the payment form after you have submitted all your entries, so you can pay for all of your entries at once.

Q. When I pay online, will I receive an automatic receipt for my credit card payment?
A. Yes. After you pay, you will be able to download or print an invoice showing your total payment.

Don’t see your question answered here?
E-mail us at info@asbpe.org or call Jessi Marie McCarthy, ASBPE Coordinator, at (727) 553-4214.