Azbee Awards of Excellence Competition Frequently Asked Questions

Azbees_2013Frequently Asked Questions

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Eligibility Judging Entry Preparation, Forms, Shipping
Payment Submissions, Category Questions Award Notifications
Submitting Entries Online

Start planning your 2016 entries!

The 2016 Azbee Awards of Excellence submission system will open in early 2016, so start planning your entries today! We’re hard at work finalizing a new and improved online entry system that will streamline the process for submissions. If you’d like to be notified when the entry system opens, please become a member (it’s free!) to join our email list.



Q. Why must editorial and design entries be from a magazine that accepts paid advertising and be listed in SRDS (Standard Rate and Data Service) Business Publication Advertising Source?

A. There are several reasons.

1) SRDS might be the primary source advertising agencies use to determine placement of their clients’ advertising. Hence, it contains listings of a very large number of business magazines, a list we can use to ensure that a magazine entry is not a “house organ” or “custom publication,” or other “pseudo” publication. Be aware that our newsletter and digital categories do not have any SRDS or advertising requirements. Also, ASBPE has separate categories for custom publications (publications that marry the marketing/self-promotional objectives of a sponsoring/owner company—much like a single-sponsored advertising supplement that has content).

2) The requirements also help eliminate those intensely “academic” technical, peer-reviewed journals published by professional societies.

3) We also use SRDS to help us verify circulation statements made on the entries.

Q. We publish several new magazines that carry advertising and list the salesforce in the masthead, but the publications are not listed in SRDS. Can they still participate in the ASBPE competition?

A. In the Editorial and Design divisions of our contest, we will make an exception only for magazines entering the New Publication category, provided they carry advertising. It’s reasonable to let them enter before they have the time to be listed in SRDS.

Q. We have not registered with SRDS yet. May we enter the Azbees now and provide you with the SRDS information later?

A. Yes, you may. The deadline for submitting the SRDS number and category is two months prior to the national Azbee Award banquet. We check SRDS numbers when we get the judging results back and only check the winners.

Q. I need to know if our magazine is a member so I can determine our entry fee.

A. Neither magazines nor publishing companies are members of ASBPE. We are a professional society of more than 700 editors and writers who work on business, trade, and association magazines, newsletters, 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.

Q. I work for a daily (five days a week) newspaper that covers metro legal issues. We meet the criteria for membership and awards, except by definition. We are neither a magazine nor a newsletter. We do, however, focus on a single industry (law) and we do have special sections.

A. Our contest is not open to specialized daily newspapers such as yours, only business, trade, and association magazines and newsletters on a less frequent basis. However, that does not mean your staff could not participate in other ASBPE activities especially with a local chapter, or even join the organization.


Q. What forms of payment do you accept?

A. We accept checks, MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.

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 will my credit card be charged? Will I receive a receipt?

A. Upon submitting all of your entries and your payment, you will be directed to a summary of charges. Please print that page as your receipt. You also will receive a confirmation via email. Due to the high volume of entries we receive and the required membership verification, your card may not be charged for 1 to 2 months after your entries are submitted.

Q. I submitted my entry forms via mail, not online. Can I get a receipt for the charge?

A. Yes, you can. We cannot issue receipts until the card has actually been charged, which can take 1 to 2 months (see above). When the charge appears on your card, please contact Competition Headquarters at, via phone (630-510-4588), or fax (630-510-4501) or with the amount charged and the transaction date from your credit card.

Q. I submitted my entry online and my credit card hasn’t been charged yet. Why not?

A. Submitting your entry is simply a process of transferring the information to Competition Headquarters. Your card is not charged until your physical entry is received, checked in, and the amount charged is verified. This process might take weeks, even a couple of months. Do not worry if the charge does not show up right away.

Q. We’ll have about 18 or 20 entries that we’d like to pay for by credit card. The entry form says to submit one charge to cover all payments. On which entry should this payment be made?

A. For each entry, the instructions state to secure an entry form to each duplicate copy of the entry, and an additional loose copy of the entry form for payment. You can put the total payment on whichever of these extra loose copies ends up at the top of your package. You will still need to enclose an extra, loose copy of each entry form, but you only need to pick one to put the payment information on.

Award Notifications

Q. How will I know if I won?

A. Finalists will be notified individually via fax once the judging is completed in May. Once all finalists have been determined, a summary email with a list of all finalists will be sent to every entrant. The list of finalists also will be posted on ASBPE’s Web site.

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 logos at our Web site. We also e-mail the submitter of your entry forms telling that person where to find them. Please contact your submitter for the URL or e-mail us at


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. (However, for some categories we only give out a national award, e.g. the Magazine of the Year.) The top entries overall will receive the national awards. The top entries in each region will receive the regional awards, provided they have not won a national award in the category.

Q. What categories are eligible for only national awards?

A. Magazine of the Year, Government, all Newsletter, and E-Newsletter categories. 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 six 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.

Our judging criteria are second to none. Each category is judged on 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 about 50 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 send your background information to

Submissions, Category Questions

Q. We have a print feature we would like to enter, written for the magazine, but later running on our Web site. Can we enter that?

A. Yes, you may enter the print article in the appropriate category in the Editorial division, provided it is published in the magazine first. But you may not enter it in a category in the Web division. It may be entered in the Design division, however.

Q. We have end-of-year issues that have cover dates 2007/2008 and one coming out in a week or so, cover date 2008/2009. Which of these two issues can be entered in the 2009 (31st annual) awards program?

A. The rules call for issue date (cover date), not 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 2008. If both of those issues have a 2008 mail date, both may be entered. However, you will need to state such on the registration form and in your 250-word statement.

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 2009, but was published (mailed) in late December 2008. I want to make sure that the content for this issue would only be eligible in nextyear’s competition. Please clarify.

If issue date on the cover says January 2009, that is not acceptable this year. 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 (category 17) and an Editorial/Editor’s Letter (category 2)? Can a chief editor enter category 17, or is this meant only for other staff editors? Category 17 says: “columns should interpret or comment on issues pertinent to the magazine’s readers.” Can’t that also describe an editorial (category 2)?

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 shuffled 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 shuffled 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, perhaps the result of typing the wrong category. 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 Editorial and Design, or between those overall categories too? Meaning, if I submit something for the “Feature Article” category under Editorial, 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 editorial feature category and the design feature article categories. You may cross “divisions.”

If you enter the Magazine of the Year category, you may submit any part of any of the submitted issues in another Editorial or Design category. Remember that Magazine of the Year 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 Editorial and Design divisions. Newsletter submissions are not allowed to cross over into another division.

Q. You say “advertorials” are not accepted in editorial and design categories other than the Custom Publication General Excellence categories. How do you define “advertorial”?

A. The best definition of “advertorials,” including special advertising sections or special advertising supplements, can be found at Simply put, an “advertorial” should not be produced by the magazine’s editorial and art staffs because it is advertising. Therefore, it may not be entered in any category other than the custom publishing ones.

To enter other categories, the editorial and design staff must have complete editorial and design control over the section or supplement.

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 other than the Custom Publication General Excellence 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 Editorial 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. We do not have a category for a single-theme issue. We may consider adding one in the future. What you can do now is submit individual articles in the appropriate categories.

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 profile category (6)? Or must it be entered as a Feature Article (2) instead?

A. You’ll need to enter the article in the Feature Article category since you are profiling more than one person. Or it might be appropriate in the Case History category, if it fits the requirements there.

Q: In the print magazine design category 44 (Publication Redesign), 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 Publication Redesign category, 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 category 6, Overall Headline Writing, may we include headlines from News Analysis stories (category 11) 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. Are digital files mandatory for any electronically submitted Azbee award filing, or can we send in hard copies? And what’s the procedure for that?

A. This depends entirely on the category.

There are some categories that will instruct you to print a copy of the electronically-submitted entry information to submit along with your hard copy. These categories include: all design categories, magazine of the year, any editorial categories that require submission of entire publications. All digital categories and the editorial categories that allow for electronic entry, must be entered entirely online, or entirely hard copy. You may not electronically submit information about an entry, then mail in a hard copy in a category that does not require a hard copy.

Q. What types of PDFs are required for online entry?

A. We require low-resolution PDF, JPEG, or GIF files (RGB color gamut) 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. 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. In the “Editorial Entry Form and Submission Guidelines,” editors are directed to place individual entry pages in clear acetate protectors. This might work easily for standard-sized pages, but I want to submit editorial content from a tabloid-sized magazine. Do tabloid-sized clear acetate protectors exist? If not, do I fold the tabloid-sized entry pages to fit the clear acetate protectors?

A. This is a problem we do have from time to time. From watching the entries come in over the years, several tabloid-sized magazines have been able to find the sheet protectors in the proper size. Some tabloid-sized magazines simply fold their magazine pages and put them in standard size protectors. Neither one will get you disqualified. It is much easier for the judges to read the entries if you can find the proper size protectors, so that is preferable. If you are unable to find the right size, it is fine to submit folded pages in the protectors. It is a good idea to try not to make the judges do extra work.

Q. Are we required to mount design entries on poster board?

A. No. The entry preparation rules have changed. We now ask that design entries not be mounted, but instead placed in nonbounded, transparent (not translucent) plastic sleeves.

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. For the print submissions, it says to place individual entry pages in clear acetate protectors, then place the entry in its own separate envelope. Do I place each page in an individual protector, or place all the pages from the article in one protector? For instance, if the article is five pages, would there be five acetate protectors in the envelope or place all five pages in one protector?

A. If you have a five-page article, for example, it would be best to place each individual page in its own clear acetate protector. Of course, two pages can be placed back-to-back in one protector. We want to make the work of the judges go smoothly and not have them have to take the pages out of the acetate protectors in order to read the article.

Q. When we place our material in a clear protector, may we have all the pages on the right-hand side with a colored piece of paper affixed to the back of the page? This way the pages are read on the right-hand side only (pages are not in spread layout).

A. Yes, that is acceptable.

Q. We’d like to pay for the entries by credit card. We’ll have about 18 or 20. The entry form says to submit one charge to cover all payments. On which entry should this payment be made?

A. For each entry, the instructions state to secure an entry form to each duplicate copy of the entry, and an additional loose copy of the entry form for payment. You can put the total payment on whichever of these extra loose copies ends up at the top of your package. You will still need to enclose an extra, loose copy of each entry form, but you only need to pick one to put the payment information on.

Q. Will ASBPE confirm that it has received my shipment?

A: 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. We generally receive more than 2,500 entries, and as we move closer to the entry deadline, we accept about 100 packages per day. It generally takes a month to process the stacks of boxes containing all the entries. Unfortunately, we would not be able to confirm receipt of entries until at least month after the deadline date. Meanwhile, if you track your shipments or buy the “return receipt” you will have your answer more quickly.

Q. In the Magazine Editorial categories, the rules specify that individual entry pages be placed in clear acetate protectors. What type of protector is this referring to? Should each page be in a separate clear folder, or each entry?

A. Any type of transparent protector will do. But don’t put the entire article in one transparent sleeve. That means the judge will have to take all the pages out. We want to keep it easy for the judges. You may, however, place the front and back sheet of an article in one sleeve. For example, if you have a four-page article, you may place pages one and two, back-to-back, in one sleeve, so that you see page two of the article when you turn the sleeve over, just like you’d do in a magazine.

Q. On the Print Editorial Entry Form it says I should place a one-page typed statement that “discuss(es) any enterprising work and its significance or impact on readers.” Should that be the same for all submissions or specific to each entry?

A: It should be a separate statement for each entry.

Q. Why do I have to prepare 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.

Submitting Entries Online

Q. Who needs to create an ASBPE competition account?

A. Anyone using the ASBPE online entry form — whether a member of ASBPE or a nonmember — needs to create a competition account.The competition database is separate from the member database, and the competition account is separate from the membership account.Once a competition account is created, the publication entering will be able to complete all entries without filling in the basic information each time. The process will also help publications to keep their entries together, and to pay for all entries at one time. Publications may submit unlimited additional entries, prior to the deadline, once an initial competition account is created.

Q. I created an ASBPE competition account, but when I log in I do not see the entry form—just the list of rules. How do I access the entry form?

A. Your network may have a firewall that is preventing a new cookie from being set. Logging on using a different browser should solve the problem. If you continue to have problems, please e-mail us at

Q. If I create an account and provide all my entry data online, must I still print out copies of the entry form to include with the three physical copies submitted?

A. Yes, you must print out copies of the completed online submission form. The system will tell you when to print the form. We still have to be able to match up the physical entries received, with the electronically submitted entry forms, and this is the way to do this.

By entering online, though, you are able to pay online, fill out the forms on the computer rather than handwriting the forms, and enter your own information, saving possible data entry errors on our part.

Q. I tried creating an account for the awards, and when I clicked to submit the form I got an error message. Why did this happen?

A. The awards submission process requires that you have cookies enabled in your browser. Please ensure that you do. That should solve the problem. The cookie is only there to help keep track of your registrations. When you close your browser the cookie goes away.

Q. If we pay for entries online, do we still need to attach a fourth entry form to a copy of the payment page for each submission?

A. Yes. We need that fourth copy for our records. It will also be used as a verification tool for what is submitted online.

Q. Is it OK to submit a PDF for a print editorial entry from a tabloid? I just want to be sure that a printout of such a file won’t 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 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. 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 you submissions to be 72-96 dpi/ppi (dots/pixels per inch) so that they may be viewed on a web site, 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 catogories?

A. You may edit entries only if you have not completed the payment process.

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 get a link that shows your entries and the total amount you were charged.

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