Please follow these guidelines as you compile your Gold Quill Awards entry.


All eligible work must be implemented, published or broadcast between January 2017 and the day of submission. If a long-term strategy was developed prior to January 2016 and hasn’t previously been entered, it is eligible for entry. If you entered your work in 2018 or 2019 and didn’t win an award, you may revise and re-enter your project. Entries that have won in previous years may not be resubmitted.


  • Choose from four divisions and 25 categories.
  • Trained evaluators will review your entry and provide you with solid feedback.
  • You may enter multiple categories within one division or across divisions.
  • Evaluation is based on IABC’s Global Seven-point Scale of Excellence for strategic planning and execution.
  • Scores for Communication Management, Communication Research, and Communication Training and Education entries are based equally on the work plan and the work sample.
  • For entries in Communication Skills, the score is based on the work sample’s creativity, professional execution and alignment.
  • For student entries, 35 percent of the score is based on the work plan and 65 percent on the work sample.
  • Entry scores for awards:
    • Award of Merit: 5.25 to 5.74 out of 7
    • Award of Excellence: 5.75 and above


You must upload your entry and pay the registration fee before the deadline noted. Full payment must be received for all entries you submit before or on the closing date to be eligible for evaluation.

Work plans for Divisions 1, 2 and 3 are limited to four pages using a font size no smaller than 10-point and margins no less than 0.5 inch (1.27 cm). A template is available here.

For Division 4, Communication Skills, in lieu of the workplan, there are additional questions that will appear on the online entry form for you to complete.  A preview of these questions is available HERE..

Award submissions must be in English, French, Spanish and Russian. Unfortunately we cannot accept entries in other languages at this time.

Work sponsored by, affiliated with, or supported by IABC or the IABC Foundation is not eligible.

Entries may be disqualified if:

  • The work plan exceeds four pages.
  • Any element of the project violates the IABC Code of Ethics.
  • It is obvious the entrant did not play a role in the project.
  • The entry depends mainly on syndicated, borrowed, reprinted or stock material.
  • If the electronic files contain viruses, if they disable or require disabling of any part of the computer system used during evaluation, or if evaluators cannot view work samples using the instructions provided.

If you are a consultant and your work was done for a client, you must include client permission for your entry, or it may be disqualified.  A sample permission letter is available here.


A student or a group of students may submit entries. At the time the work was created, the student must have been attending school full time or part time, working toward a degree at a college, university or other educational institution. Entrants who were enrolled as a student but have professional communication experience or are employed in the communication profession must submit their entry as a professional member or non-member.

Work produced for educational courses, a club or volunteer association, an internship, or commercial and non-commercial activities, including work for an IABC chapter or region, is eligible for submission.

If the assignment was not fully implemented, please make note of this to the evaluators. It will not disadvantage your entry, however you must show how the program would have been evaluated, had it been implemented in practice.

Professors, lecturers or advisers may not enter on behalf of a student.


Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get help to prepare my entry?
IABC has created How-To guides which provide a detailed reference to the criteria used to evaluate your entry. There are two versions one for Divisions 1, 2 and 3 (Communication Management, Communication Research and Communication Training and Education) and one for Division 4 (Communication Skills). There are also other helpful documents on our Enter page and Resources page.

Can I resubmit an entry that I have submitted to Gold Quill previously?
Yes, as long as your entry has not previously won a Gold Quill Award. All eligible work must be implemented, published or broadcast between January 2017 and the day of submission (for the 2019 awards program). If a long-term strategy was developed prior to January 2017 and hasn’t previously been entered, it is eligible for entry. If you entered your work in 2018 or 2019 and didn’t win an award, you may revise and re-enter your project. Entries that have won in previous years may not be resubmitted.

Can I submit the same entry more than once in different categories?
Yes! You can submit the same entry into any category, provided fits the category description. For example, if you are submitting a multimedia campaign targeted at several audiences, you may enter it in Marketing, Advertising and Brand Communication, Community Relations, Issues Management and Crisis Communication, and Digital Communication. However, you will have the best chance of winning if you customize your work plan to suit the category description. You must pay a separate entry fee for each category you enter and provide separate supporting documents with each entry. You will have to upload each entry separately–you cannot upload the entry once and then select multiple categories.

Can I submit several different projects for entry?
You may submit as many entries as you wish. You will need to submit a separate entry form, work plan and work sample for each entry.

If my project was created by a team, which name do I use as the entrant’s name?
The entrant should be the person who was principally responsible for the development, management and execution of the entry. If you want to recognize your team, submit the entry form and the work plan with your name and refer to the team, such as Jane Oliver and Team Honeywell. The name on the entry form must match the name on the work plan. Each entry receives one trophy. However, following the awards ceremony, you may order as many additional trophies as you need (see below). It is critical that you carefully fill out the contact details for your entry, as all communication about your entry, your evaluation feedback and, should you win, your trophy and attendance at the Excellence Gala, will be sent to the person listed. Should the main contact change (e.g. leave the company, change email address, etc.) it is your responsibility to let us know.

How do I ensure that other members of the team receive credit for working on the project?
When you submit your entry, you have the option to provide the names of your team members next to “Name(s) for Award.” Provided names will be engraved on your award, published on the Gold Quill Awards winners list and acknowledged at the Excellence Gala at World Conference. (Please enter this information carefully, as incorrect information may result in incorrect trophy production.) Each entry receives one trophy. However, you may order as many additional trophies as you need following the awards ceremony–details on how to order will be made available at that time. If desired, each member of your team can have their own individual trophy.

If a project was created by an agency and client, who should enter it?
Either one can enter, as long as the entrant includes a letter of consent acknowledging the different roles in the project, and written permission to disclose corporate information as part of the entry requirements. If the material is proprietary, be sure to clearly indicate this in your entry and entry form. Entries that do not include this letter of permission will be disqualified. A template permission letter is available for your reference.

Why do I have to upload an image as part of my entry?
We ask all entrants to provide a photo, logo or other image that represents their entry. This image may be used in promotion of the awards generally and to represent your entry in any promotion or publicity of winners, should your entry prove to be a winner. It may also be used as a representative image for your entry during the Excellence Gala.

How do I know if my entry has been received?
You will receive an automated confirmation email after you have submitted your entry via our submission system.

How are entries, evaluations and types of awards determined?
IABC award entries are scored using a seven-point global scale of excellence as a guide. All scores start at four (4), which represents a fully competent approach to communication planning and execution. Work is scored up or down, depending on the content. Scores of seven (7) and one (1) are very rare.

IABC’s Global Seven-point Scale of Excellence

7 Outstanding: An extraordinary or insightful approach or result
6 Significantly better than average: Demonstrates an innovative, strategic approach; takes all elements into account and delivers significant results
5 Better than average: Demonstrates a strategic approach and aligns the communication solution with the business need to deliver meaningful results
4 Average: Competent approach or results, professionally sound and appropriate
3 Somewhat less than satisfactory: Several key elements that are critical to the strategy or execution are missing, incorrect or under-represented
2 An inadequate approach or result: A significant number of critical elements are missing
1 Poor: Work that is wrong or inappropriate

Entries must receive 5.25 to receive an Award of Merit. Entries scoring 5.75 and higher receive an Award of Excellence.

Do entrants receive feedback?
For each entry submitted, entrants receive a comprehensive evaluation with scores and comments provided by a team of two evaluators.

What if I believe an error was made in the scoring/feedback for my entry?
All scoring decisions made by evaluators are considered final at the time of reconciliation. If you have a dispute with the scoring or feedback for your entry please email within seven business days of the scores and feedback being released by IABC. Scoring questions will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Awards Committee. No scoring review will be considered after the seven-business-day period.

How are winners notified and recognized?
Winners will be notified in April 2020, and recognized at the IABC World Conference Excellence Gala in Chicago on Tuesday, 16 June 2020. Winners of the best of the best awards, and agencies and departments of the year accolades will be announced and celebrated at the Excellence Gala.

What happens to the entries once the program is over?
We archive the files for six months and, with permission from the winners, share winning entries as case studies on the IABC website and in Communication World magazine to demonstrate best practices in the communication profession.

Which category or division should I enter?
Take a look at the divisions and categories page for full descriptions. If you’re still stuck, email

Which languages are acceptable for submissions?
Award submissions may be in English, French or Spanish.  Unfortunately we cannot accept entries in other languages at this time.

Do evaluators really pay attention to details such as the permitted font size and the length of the work plan?
Yes they do! Entrants are allowed four pages for work plans across Divisions 1–3. For Division 4, entrants must fully complete the brief entry form. Margins must be at least 0.5 inch or 1.27 centimeters on all sides using the standard paper size (8.5” x 11” or A4), and fonts may be no smaller than 10 points. Work plans exceeding the maximum length will be disqualified. NOTE:  The table at the top of the work plan counts as a part of the 4 page maximum length and must be included as a part of the work plan.

I’m submitting a large campaign. How can I make sure that my entry fits the size limit?
To support your work plan, you will be able to upload a maximum of five work sample files. Your work samples must be in PDF, PNG, JPG, GIF, MP4, WMV, or M4V format. If you have more than five work samples, you should combine them into fewer condensed files.

Can the work sample be submitted as a microsite or e-magazine?
Your work sample can be only submitted in PDF, PNG, JPG, GIF, MP4, WMV, or M4V formats. If you would like to have a microsite or any other online material reviewed by the evaluators, you may provide a PDF document that includes the appropriate URL address and a short description of the link. Please make sure that any URLs you submit will be live and easily accessed by evaluators at the time of evaluation.

If I’m part of an agency submitting work done for a client, is it compulsory to provide a written permission from the client?
Yes. You need to provide an authorization letter signed by your client. The letter can be uploaded as a PDF file and can either be a letter or an email. Entries without this permission will be disqualified. A template letter is available for your use.

When do I pay my entry fee? 
After you submit your entry and you have uploaded all the required files, you will see the checkout button on the summary page. Payment is required by credit card. To receive the IABC member rate, the entrant must be an IABC member.

Is there a discount if I submit the same entry in multiple categories?  Or if I submit multiple entries? 
There is no discount for multiple entries – each entry must pay the full applicable submission fee.

What if I need to cancel and get a refund after I submit my entry? 
Requests for refunds must be submitted in writing to IABC at and must be received before the final submission deadline (23 January 2020) to be considered.  No refunds will be processed after the final submission deadline.

What is the difference between “Entrant” and “Name(s) for Awards” on the entry form?
“Entrant” is the name of the person who is submitting the entry and was principally responsible for the development, management and execution of the entry. If you would like to submit your entry on behalf of your company, you may enter as a team. “Name(s) for Award”: The provided name(s) in this section will be engraved on the plaque of the award. The names will also be published in the Gold Quill Awards winners list and acknowledged at the Excellence Gala.

Does IABC publish work plans and work samples?
When you submit your entry, we will ask whether we have your permission to publish your entry in the future. IABC will never distribute or publish any document without the entrants’ permission. Three confidentiality questions are included in the entry form and you may answer each accordingly. The questions on the entry form are:

  1. May we reprint your work plan in IABC resources and/or post your work plan online if you are a winner?
  2. May we publish your work sample on our website and/or in our program if you are a winner?
  3. Are elements of your work plan or work sample confidential?

Is there a cost for the award trophy?
IABC provides one award at no charge for each Gold Quill Award winner. If winners would like to order duplicate awards, they may do so following the awards ceremony. All winners will be notified about the procedure for purchasing additional awards.

Can I make a payment before uploading all the required files?
Payment is the final step of the award entry process. You will not be able to make any changes to your entry or upload new files once payment has been processed.

What is the difference between entering Division 4 (Communication Skills) and the other three divisions?
In response to feedback from entrants, in 2015 we made the Skills Division easier to enter. We want to encourage as many people to enter their excellent tactical execution of communication programs.The rigor of the Gold Quill Awards program still exists–evaluators still look for alignment of the tactic with strategic goals, audience analysis and business outcomes. However, in this division, you need to complete our entry form and provide high-level detail on these elements, instead of completing a four-page work plan outlining your strategy. Please note that each item has a character limit for your response.

What are the “IABC Gold Quill … of the Year” awards?
These special awards recognize the agencies and organizations that achieve significant recognition through the Gold Quill Awards program. They will be awarded to the organizations that win the highest total number of awards in the 2020 program. Entrants are awarded two points for every Excellence Award won and one point for every Merit Award won. The team with the highest number of points wins!