Best Practices: Hallmark Awards Writing Tips

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You’ve explored the Honors Study Topic, and you’ve planned out and implemented your Honors in Action Project and your College Project. But regardless of how successful these projects have been on your campus, only one thing will determine their success on the international awards level: the submission entry.

The judgment of Hallmark Awards is solely based on the award applications, so it is imperative that your entry be well-written and concise and that it walk the judges through your process of planning and implementing your Honors in Action and College Projects.

“The writing for each Hallmark Award is of paramount importance,” said Monika Byrd, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Leadership Development and Service Learning. “It is the only way that those reading the entries know about the projects or the individuals.”

Use the rubrics. The Hallmark Awards application questions and rubrics, found here, provide guidance and outline everything a winning entry should include.

Do not restate the questions in your answer. Doing so eats away at your word count. The judges will see the questions with the answers when they review the applications.

Don’t leave the readers wondering “Why?” or “So What?” Use details to fully explain your answers. If Theme 1 was the best fit for your chapter, don’t just say that. Tell us why.

Remember the process. Don’t simply state your chapter’s specific goals; summarize the process the chapter used to set those goals.

Always check for the tricky “and” in the question. Answering every part of the question is imperative. Don’t leave anything out.

Go beyond spell check. If needed, complete your application answers offline so you can print, read, edit and then edit again. The most successful applications have faultless grammar and spelling.

“The best entries have tight writing, succinct and powerful writing,” Byrd said. “They succeed by including plenty of relevant details. That’s only possible if care is taken to omit unnecessary words.”

Keeping a journal throughout the year detailing your process and success is an easy yet important way to keep track of your progress. It will also help ensure that you don’t leave out valuable information you learned along the way when completing your applications.

Most importantly, start early! The deadline is January 29, 2014, but applications are currently being accepted. Don’t risk running into technical problems.

Special Note: Advisors do not write chapter Hallmark Awards entries, specifically for the Honors in Action and College Project Awards. Rather, they serve as coaches and guides. View “Hallmark Awards: Planning, Writing and Coaching Your Chapters Entry Process” for even more helpful tips. Individual award categories, such as Distinguished Chapter Officer or Distinguished Chapter Member, require advisor submissions.