Categories Announced for the 44th National Magazine Awards

The National Media Awards Foundation is pleased to announce the lineup of categories for the 2021 National Magazine Awards. Our program for 2021 features 29 categories, plus two special awards and seven additional categories that are part of a new, cross-programming initiative.

Writing & Visual Awards:

  1. Long-Form Feature Writing: 6000+
  2. Long-Form Feature Writing
  3. Feature Writing
  4. Short Feature Writing
  5. Columns
  6. Essays
  7. Investigative Reporting
  8. Fiction
  9. Personal Journalism
  10. Poetry
  11. Profiles
  12. Service Journalism
  13. Best Emerging Writer
  14. Illustration (incl. Spot & Photo Illustration)
  15. Portrait Photography
  16. Lifestyle Photography
  17. Photo Essay & Journalism
  18. One of a Kind Storytelling

Editorial Awards:

  1. Art Direction of a Single Article
  2. Best Editorial Package
  3. Art Direction Grand Prix
  4. Editor Grand Prix
  5. Cover Grand Prix
  6. Issue Grand Prix
  7. Publisher Grand Prix

Grand Prix: Best Magazine Awards

  1. Best Magazine: News, Business, General Interest
  2. Best Magazine: Service & Lifestyle
  3. Best Magazine: Art, Literary, Culture
  4. Best Magazine: Special Interest

Special Awards:

  • Magazine Grand Prix
  • Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement

Additional Categories

New for 2021, we encourage NMA participants to submit their work to the following categories, which will compete among those submitted to the Digital Publishing Awards and National Magazine Awards: B2B programs. For this cross-programming initiative, all entries will be evaluated by a single panel of judges, and winners will be announced across all three programs. For more information, please see our rules.

  • Best Editorial Newsletter
  • Best Podcast: News and Politics
  • Best Podcast: Arts and Culture
  • Best Online Video: Short
  • Best Online Video: Feature
  • Best Online Video: Mini-Doc
  • Best Virtual Event

The NMAF will present the winners of the 44th National Magazine Awards in spring 2021. If you’re interested in submitting to the 2021 NMAs, please note that the call for entries opens on December 21, 2020 and closes on January 28, 2021. To save on fees, get your entries in by the early bird deadline of January 21, 2021.

We have also made a change to our submission requirements in response to the challenges surrounding COVID-19.

Our Freelancer Support Fund and Small Magazine Rebate will be available once again this year, ensuring that the National Magazine Awards recognize the best work from a broad range of Canadian creators and magazines.

Categories Announced for the 42nd National Magazine Awards

The NMAF is thrilled to present the newly revised category lineup for the 2019 National Magazine Awards. The program features 29 categories, reflecting the Canadian media landscape and recognizing the outstanding achievements of the industry’s top magazine creators and publishers.


Category Lineup for the 42nd National Magazine Awards

Writing and Visual Awards, recognizing writers and visual creators, and rewarding Gold Medal winners with a $1000 cash prize. Both print and digital magazines are eligible.

  1. Long-form Feature Writing
  2. Feature Writing
  3. Short Feature Writing
  4. Columns
  5. Essays
  6. Investigative Reporting
  7. Fiction
  8. Personal Journalism
  9. Poetry
  10. Professional Article
  11. Profiles
  12. Service Journalism
  13. Best New Magazine Writer
  14. Illustration (including Spot and Photo Illustration)
  15. Portrait Photography
  16. Lifestyle Photography
  17. Photo Essay and Photojournalism
  18. One of a Kind Storytelling

Editorial Awards, recognizing teams of magazine editors, art directors creators, and other contributors, in print or digital magazines. New to this year’s lineup are Issue Grand Prix and Publisher Grand Prix.

19. Art Direction of a Single Article
20. Best Editorial Package
21. Art Direction grand Prix
22. Editor Grand Prix
23. Cover Grand Prix
24. Issue Grand Prix
25. Publisher Grand Prix

The four Grand Prix: Best Magazine Awards reward outstanding achievement in magazine publishing. These magazine consistently engage, surprise, and serve the needs of their readers.

26. Best Magazine: News, Business, General Interest
27. Best Magazine: Service & Lifestyle
28. Art, Literary, & Culture
29. Best Magazine: Special Interest

At the 42nd annual NMA Gala, we will also present the two highest honours bestowed to a magazine and an individual: Magazine Grand Prix and the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.

The magazine which demonstrates overall excellence in bringing its publishing team together to create an outstanding product will be awarded the Magazine Grand Prix title (formerly Magazine of the Year). The individual who has offered innovative and creative contributions to the magazine industry will be presented with the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. Note that for these special awards, there is no entry fee.

The call for entries opens December 17, 2018 and closes January 18, 2019.


The NMAF is currently accepting nominations for individuals to serve on the juries for this year’s National Magazine Awards. Click here for more information.

Digital Publishing Awards announce categories for 2017

The NMAF is pleased to announce that the 2nd annual Digital Publishing Awards has expanded their program and have officially revealed a new category lineup.
This year, the Digital Publishing Awards will present awards in 22 categories focusing on the work of Canadian digital creators, while reflecting new trends and attitudes toward digital publishing and content.
[Read the full press release here – PDF]
These changes come as part of the NMAF 2016-17 Strategic Initiatives to expand the DPA program, while continuing it’s efforts to foster, recognize and promote excellent editorial content by Canadian digital creators.

After a successful inaugural year, the industry feedback clearly indicated there was a need to broaden the Digital Publishing Awards to be more inclusive of areas of excellence in the digital landscape. We surveyed our judges, sought feedback from our participants, and convened an Advisory Committee of industry experts to help shape the program for the future. Based on these learnings, the program has substantively evolved to recognize excellence in digital content and journalism, and in particular to call attention to the best practices and innovations in the craft. We believe the program this year reflects that enthusiasm.
–Nino Di Cara, NMAF President

In addition to the these changes in the category lineup, individual Gold winners will now receive a $500 prize.
Changes to the Digital Publishing Awards categories:

  • The top overall prize—General Excellence in Digital Publishing—will be presented in two divisions, for large and small publications.
  • Other new categories include:
    • Best Social Storytelling
    • Best Online Video in 3 divisions:
      • Short (under 2 minutes)
      • Feature (2-5 minutes)
      • Mini-Doc (more than 5 minutes
    • Best News Coverage in 2 divisions:
      • Provincial & Local
      • National & International
    • Best Personal Essay
    • Best Arts & Entertainment Story
    • Best Service Feature: Lifestyle
    • Best Service Feature: Family, Health & Careers
    • Best Fashion & Beauty
    • Emerging Excellence Award
    • Digital Publishing Leadership Award

This year, the Digital Publishing Awards worked with an Advisory Committee, who provided invaluable guidance to crafting the 2017 program:

  • Craig Silverman, Editor-in-Chief, BuzzFeed Canada
  • Kenny Yum, Managing Editor, Huffington Post Canada
  • Kathy Vey, Executive Producer, Digital,
  • Haley Cullingham, Senior Editor, Digital, Hazlitt and Penguin Random House Canada
  • Laura de Carufel, Editor-in-Chief, The Kit

The NMAF is grateful to the members of the Advisory Committee, as well as to all those who participated in our survey and submitted their feedback.
We look forward to another great year of rewarding excellence in Canadian digital content creation.

National Magazine Awards > Frequently Asked Questions

This post has been updated for 2012. With the annual NMA submissions season about to begin on December 1, the NMAF is rolling out some answers to some general questions about the awards. If you have a question not addressed here, leave a comment or contact us. [Version française ici]

1. 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.

2. What is the prize money?
A Gold NMA includes a cash prize of $1000. A Silver NMA includes a cash prize of $500. 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 or Silver between two or more winning entries, both entries will receive a share of the stipulated cash prize. (When there is a tie for Gold in a categor, a Silver award is not given. If there are three or fewer nominees, then only a Gold award will be given.)

3. Where does my submission fee go?
The NMAF is a non-profit organization and all entry fees go towards prize money, the administrative costs of sorting submissions and facilitating the judging process.

4. 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 be a majority Canadian owned, publish at least two issues per year and meet Canadian magazine industry’s Code of Reader & Advertiser Engagement. See the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules for full details before submitting.

5. What is a magazine?
The NMAF’s guiding principle for magazine publishing is that the publication, whether print, tablet or website, 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 print or tablet publication must be published at least twice per year. A magazine website must have been launched before December 1, 2012. All magazines must meet the requirements of the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules.

6. 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. (There is a separate fee for each individual entry.) 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.

7. Who are the judges for the NMAs?
Each year the NMAF relies on the expertise of more than two hundred volunteer judges to evaluate and rank all submissions. In composing its judging panels the NMAF strives for diversity of geography, language and expertise. 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.

8. How many judges evaluate my work?
Submissions in written categories are evaluated in a first tier by separate English- and French-language juries for each category. A shortlist of top entries from those panels, proportional by language, goes on to a second, bilingual jury for each category. Thus by the time a winner is selected, six judges have weighed in equally on all finalists. Submissions in visual, integrated and special award categories are evaluated by juries of 3-5 members, one or more of whom is bilingual.

9. 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 integrated and special categories follow the guidelines of each category’s definition. See the NMAF’s Judging Process for full details.

10. What happens if a category does not receive enough submissions?
Categories are offered on a trial basis when they are first introduced. 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.

11. We’re a small magazine. Could you help me with the submission fees?
Yes! The NMAF offers co-financing to print and digital magazines with an annual revenue of under $250,000 and that meet one of two circulations levels. Although as a charity we have a total fixed amount we are able to offer, there is no limit to the number of submissions a publication may enter.  The application process is simple and funds are allocated on a first come, first served basis. The deadline for applications is December 14, 2012. Read more here.


12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. Are there categories just for digital publications?
Yes. The categories Blogs, Editorial Package–Web, Magazine Website Design and Magazine Website of the Year are open exclusively to magazine websites. The category Tablet Magazine of the Year is open exclusively to tablet editions. The category Online Videos is open to magazine websites and tablet editions.

16. How do I submit an individual entry that appeared in a tablet edition?
Written-category submissions require three (3) sets of photocopies of the entry no matter the platform of publication. 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.

17. How do I submit a full-book tablet edition for consideration?
These include Tablet Magazine entries for Art Direction for an Entire Issue, Best Single Issue and Tablet Magazine of the Year. The submission form for these categories will require the iTunes URL to your magazine app. We’ll also require one of two things: either that the issue to be judged be made free to download or a promotional code (or similar) be included to ensure that the issue may be viewed by the NMA judges for free. This step is important – requiring judges to pay for tablet entries would be like asking them to buy magazines at the newsstand to evaluate print entries. Any full-book Digital Magazine entry that requires payment to be viewed will be disqualified. A PDF is also required for these categories; submitters may upload a PDF of just the cover of the issue.

18. 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. (All submitters in written categories, whether print or digital, must submit six sets of photocopies of their work in accordance with the submissions guidelines. Judges will have access to both print and digital (PDF) versions of all entries as well as the editorial mandate of the publication.)

19. Is a blog eligible for a National Magazine Award?
Yes. New this year the NMAF is offering a written category for Blogs, which is open to submissions from a regular series of original written content produced by a magazine website that has a recognizable unifying voice or theme. Entries may consist of up to ten (10) blog posts by one or more authors. A blog or collection of blogs produced by a magazine website may be a component of an entry in the categories Editorial Package–Web and Magazine Website of the Year.

20. Who are the judges for digital categories?
Juries for the categories open exclusively to magazine websites and tablet magazines are composed of 3-4 individuals at least one of whom is bilingual. Each judging panel evaluates its assigned entries and convenes by teleconference to determine the finalists and winners. Each panel consists of at least one digital publishing editor, one designer and one writer and/or publisher. Read more about the NMAF Judging Process for all categories.

21. When do the judges evaluate digital categories?
Juries for Magazine Website Design and Magazine Website of the Year have approximately one month (from mid-February to mid-March following the submissions deadline) to evaluate live online content before meeting to decide on finalists and winners. This means that the design and content of the websites that appear during this one-month window will form the basis for evaluating entries in these categories.