Monday, October 22, 2012

Reading competition rules properly

A word for Australian writers entering international competitions. I came across a competition the other day with the following rules of entry:

Rules of Entry:
  • Entries may be up to 3,000 words long
  • Deadline for submissions is 30 April 2013
  • Any subject or style is welcome
  • The competition is open to writers from all countries, but entries must be written in English
  • We expect entries to have been checked for proper spelling and grammar. Apostrophes and quotation marks are not interchangeable; and titles such as Dr. and Mrs. should have periods.

This is fairly standard at first glance, however, for those writing in Australian English style, there would be some major adjustments to be made.

While the competition is open to writers from all countries, it does state entries must be written in English, however, if fails to clarify which English style as this changes between countries.

The rules further state that apostrophes and quotation marks are not interchangeable, well they're not are they? Except in Australian style we tend to use single quotation marks to enclose dialogue, not double, so I wonder if this is what the clause refers to and, if so, it may have been better to spell this out.

The third point is the requirement for a period to be used after Dr Mr Mrs etc. something not used in this neck of the global woods and this may require the writer to go through their manuscript and change anything of relevance to this.

As an Australian writer and  editor, I adhere to the Australian Style Manual guidelines unless advised otherwise and in this instance, using this style would preclude acceptance of my entry.

If the judges of this competition, or those undertaking the short-listing do so according to their set criteria, your entry may  not proceed beyond this stage and you'll never know why. My advice is to read all competition rules carefully and, for international competitions, it may save a wasted entry fee  if you contact the organisers before submitting to make sure you have a common understanding of what 
'English' exactly means. 

At least in this instance the organisers have stipulated this element of style, although it does seem at odds with inviting entries from all countries where people follow variations in style.


  1. Reading the rules thoroughly is always a good idea but it seems to me that single speech marks are acceptable over here in the UK too and the full stop after Dr. Mrs. etc is often dropped. It seems that this competition is being a bit pedantic and it may be worth checking with the organisers as you suggest.

  2. The fine print is not only important and hard to read but there to confuse as well. Just like a finance contract I guess.

  3. I have asked the organisers for clarification and will update this listing when I receive this.


For some reason I'm yet to fathom I'm unable to reply to comments left by others so thank you for dropping by and taking the time to read and comment. Merlene