Updated for 2020
This year’s National Magazine Awards program has 29 categories, in addition to two special awards. The categories have been crafted to recognize excellence in journalism, writing, visual art, design and publishing. Our program honours the outstanding achievements of our industry’s best creators and publishers.
1. What is new this year with NMA categories?
For the 43rd annual awards, we have made adjustments to the Long-Form Feature Writing category. For 2020, this category will honour outstanding feature writing of a magazine story between 3500-6000 words in length, in any field or subject. For stories exceeding 6001 words in length, we’re pleased to introduce Long-Form Feature Writing: 6000+.
The Best Professional Article category has been cancelled. We encourage you to check out the National Magazine Awards: B2B program, which offers an excellent platform for submitting your professional articles.
Best New Magazine Writer has been re-named to Best Emerging Writer. Slight changes have been made to the submissions and eligibility requirements; notably, applicants can not have been nominated for a National Magazine Award, Digital Publishing Award, or National Magazine Award: B2B. Click here for additional details.
Here, you’ll find the full, 2020 category lineup.
2. Who wins National Magazine Awards?
NMAs are awarded to content creators. In most categories this means it is the individual writer, photographer, illustrator, or stylist who receives recognition and the award (and the prize money). In certain package and full-book categories the editors, art directors, or a team of staff and contributors are rewarded. The magazine or website that published the winning work shares in the bragging rights and enjoys a spike in popularity. To search for past winners by year, category, individual or magazine, visit the NMAF Awards Archive.
3. What is the prize money?
Written & Visual awards include a cash prize of $1,000 for Gold Winners. Where there is more than one creator named on a single winning entry, the cash prize will be split evenly between those creators. If there is a tie for Gold between two or more winning entries, both entries will receive a share of the stipulated cash prize.
4. Where does my submission fee go?
The NMAF is a Canadian Charity and all entry fees go towards prize money, the administrative costs of sorting submissions, and facilitating the judging process.
5. Who is eligible for a National Magazine Award?
To be named as a creator on any submission, you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. Your work must be original (not stock or previously published in any form), commissioned by the magazine or website and published within the eligible calendar year. Magazine and websites must have a permanent editorial staff in Canada, be the product of an editorial process and meet Canadian magazine industry’s Code of Reader & Advertiser Engagement. See the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules for full details before submitting.
6. I’m a freelancer. Can I enter my own work?
Yes! The NMAF has introduced the Freelancer Support Fund, which allows independent writers and creators to submit two entries at the discounted rate of Buy-One-Get-One FREE! The regular rate of $125 (+HST) will apply to any submission entered in addition to the first two. The Freelancer Support Fund applies to entries for Writing and Visual Awards, for which there is a cash prize to the winning creator of $1,000. Deadline is January 22, 2020.
7. What is a magazine?
The NMAF’s guiding principle for magazine publishing is that the publication, whether print, or digital, must self-describe as a magazine; be editorial in nature (that is, it must have and submit a clear editorial mandate); be the product of an editorial process; and be published regularly. A digital magazine must have been launched before December 1, 2019. All magazines must meet the requirements of the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules.
8. In which category is my work eligible?
It is the responsibility of the submitter to determine which of the NMA Categories is best suited to your work. Most written and visual work may be entered in more than one category except where specific restrictions are stated. (Note that there is a separate fee for each individual entry. For the Best Magazine Awards, a magazine may only submit in two of the four categories.) The judges—not the NMAF—will determine whether your entry is appropriate to the category’s definition. Any entry deemed by judges to be entered in the wrong category will be disqualified.
9. Who are the judges for the NMAs?
Each year the NMAF relies on the expertise of more than 150 volunteer judges to evaluate and rank all submissions. In composing its judging panels, the NMAF strives for diversity of geography, background, language, and expertise. For written, visual, and editorial awards, judges are recognized experts in a particular field of magazine publishing, editing, design, content creation, and business, and may have an expertise in a subject relevant to a particular category. The Best Magazine Awards are judged by a panel of three to five judges, including industry experts, readers of influence, and professionals or leaders from related cultural sectors.
10. How many judges evaluate my work?
Submissions in written categories are evaluated by separate English- and French-language juries for each category, and each jury receives identical scoring procedures and criteria. Each jury is composed of a diverse panel of three experts. Submissions in visual and editorial categories are evaluated by juries of three to five members, one or more of whom is bilingual. Submissions in best magazine award categories are evaluated by juries of three to five members, at least two of whom are bilingual.
11. What are judges looking for?
Judges in written categories look for excellence in writing style, content, overall impact and successful engagement of the intended reader, as well as the entry’s relevance to the category’s definition. Judges in visual categories assess the aesthetic as well as the practical concerns of each entry, evaluating the functionality of the visual material and its appropriateness to the category, to the text it accompanies and to the magazine medium. Judges in editorial, best magazines and special categories follow the guidelines of each category’s definition. See the NMAF’s Judging Process for full details.
12. Do the juries know who the submitter is on an entry?
No. Judges do not get to see who submitted an entry (e.g. if it was a magazine editor or a freelancer).
13. What happens if a category does not receive enough submissions?
For categories with 15 or fewer submissions, the NMAF reserves the right to name only five finalists and a single overall Gold winner. If not enough submissions are received to provide a legitimate competition, the NMAF reserves the right to cancel that category after submissions are complete. In the event of a category cancellation all submissions fees will be refunded in that category.
14. Are full-book entries eligible in written categories?
In most cases, entries in written categories are open only to individual articles. However, in the case where the entire issue of the magazine constitutes a single article (such as a listings issue), that issue may be eligible as long as it fits the category definition. The NMAF reserves the right for its judges to determine whether a full-book entry is eligible. The editorial category Best Editorial Package is specifically open to a collection of articles on a related theme in a single issue. Where the entire issue of a magazine consists of a single editorial package, that entire issue may be eligible in this category.
15. We’re a small magazine. Is there a special offer for our entry fees?
Yes! The NMAF offers a Small Magazine Rebate to print and digital magazines with an annual revenue of under $200,000. The small magazine rebate entitles all eligible publications to enter a second entry AT NO COST when they submit at least one entry. Read more here.
Digital Content, Online and Tablet Magazines
16. Are there categories just for digital publications?
Yes. While written and visual content from tablet magazines and magazine websites is eligible in most written, visual, editorial, best magazines and special categories, there are also over 20 categories specific to digital content in our Digital Publishing Awards, a bilingual program created specifically for Canadian digital publishers. Submissions for the Digital Publishing Awards are being accepted from December 9, 2019 to January 23rd, 2020.
17. Can I submit work that was commissioned for a print magazine but published online?
Yes, any story published by a Canadian magazine, whether published in print or online, is eligible for a National Magazine Award.
18. What types of digital and web-based magazines are eligible for the NMAs?
An eligible digital publication may be a Magazine Website or a Tablet Magazine. All publications wishing to enter the NMAs must meet the requirements of the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules. Digital content is eligible in most categories. See specific categories for restrictions.
19. What exactly is meant by a Magazine Website?
A Magazine Website may be either the companion website of a print magazine title or an online-only publication that self-identifies as a magazine. Content from magazine websites may enter most awards categories with some exceptions. See the list of categories for details.
20. What exactly is meant by a Tablet Magazine?
A Tablet Magazine is a publication that produces a complete issue of a magazine but distributes it digitally on a tablet platform. Like a print magazine issue it should be a static creation, as opposed to a website that is updated frequently. Tablet magazines may enter most awards categories with some exceptions. See the list of categories for details.
21. How do I submit an individual entry that appeared in a tablet edition?
A PDF of the entire entry is required for all submissions (in all categories) and you will be prompted to upload your PDF in the online submission form. Please upload an original PDF, not a snapshot taken from the tablet edition and subsequently converted to a PDF.
22. How do I submit a full-book tablet edition for consideration?
This includes tablet magazine entries for Grand Prix: Art Direction and Best Editorial Package. The submission form for these categories will require the iTunes URL to your magazine app. We request that the issue be made available for free or that a promotion code be provided. If judges are required to pay for content, the NMAF will invoice the submitter for the additional expenses. A PDF is also required for these categories; for full-book categories, submitters may upload a PDF of just the cover of the issue.
23. Can online content really compete against print in written categories?
Yes. Judges in written categories look for excellence in writing style, content, overall impact and successful engagement of the intended reader, as well as the entry’s relevance to the category’s definition. Any article that meets these requirements likely will be received well by the judges, whether it was originally published in print or online. Judges will have access to digital (PDF) versions of all entries as well as the editorial mandate of the publication.
24. Is a blog eligible for a National Magazine Award?
Yes. Blogs may be eligible for a National Magazine Award provided they meet the category definition and the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules. Also, blogs and blog content may be eligible for a Digital Publishing Award.