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.

All about Co-financing: Discounted NMA submission fees

The submissions process for the National Magazine Awards opens on December 1. On that date, the NMAF will make available the applications for Co-financing on its website. [Version française ici]

The deadline to submit Co-financing applications is December 9.

What is Co-financing? It is an NMAF partial subsidy of the cost of entering the awards. It is available to small publications with less than $250,000 in total revenue.

There are two levels of Co-financing available: one for publications with under 20,000 circulation; another for even smaller publications with under 2000 circulation.

How does one apply? Applicants must download and complete the application form (available on December 1) and return it to the NMAF by December 9 along with a confirmation of circulation (either an ABC or CCAB audited statement, or a copy of the magazine’s most recent print-run confirmation). The application must indicate how many submissions the magazine plans to enter, though the magazine does not have to enter its submissions by December 9.

There is no limit to the number of submissions that Co-financing applicants can enter. All successful applicants will be approved for Co-financing of a minimum of three submissions (unless they’ve indicated they will only submit one or two). As the NMAF has limited resources for Co-financing, successful applicants indicating they plan to enter more than three submissions will be approved for Co-financing on the remainder of their stated submissions on a first come, first served basis until the NMAF reaches its funding cap.

What happens next? The NMAF will notify all successful applicants by email no later than December 20, indicating how many submissions are approved for Co-financing. Applicants will have until the submissions deadline of January 13, 2012 to enter their submissions.

Magazines that have been approved for Co-financing must pay their submissions fees in full when they submit. The Co-financing will be disbursed as a refund once all submissions are received and verified; not later than March 2, 2012.

Co-financing applications will be available December 1 here.

NMAF welcomes new Treasurer and Secretary to its board of directors

The NMAF is pleased to welcome Liana Bell, a partner with the accounting firm Clarke Henning, as its new treasurer on the board of directors for 2011-2012.

Liana replaces Margaret Albanese, corporate comptroller at St. Joseph Communications, who is retiring this year after serving eight years on the board of directors. The NMAF board, committees and staff are grateful to Margaret for her years of service to the foundation and the Canadian magazine industry.

Meanwhile, Susan Zuzinjak, founder and president of smitten creative boutique, who has served on the board of directors since 2003, has been named secretary of the NMAF board for 2011-2012.

Free National Magazine Award-winning magazines?!

Just in time for (any and all) holidays, Magazines Canada is offering its Buy 2, Get 1 Free subscription offer.

Among the 100+ titles on offer in this fantastic deal are 27 magazines that won awards at this year’s NMAs.

Twenty-seven award-winning magazines! That’s almost too many to mention. Almost…

Alberta Views, Arc, Brick, Canadian Geographic, Châtelaine, Ciel Variable, Elle Canada, explore, Event, Fashion Magazine, Flare, L’actualité, Maclean’s*, Maisonneuve, Malahat Review, MoneySense*, More, Ottawa Magazine, Outdoor Canada, Prefix Photo, Queen’s Quarterly, Québec science, The Feathertale Review, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Vancouver Magazine and Western Living.

Yes, you could even get all 27 for the price of 18!

(In addition to the subscription deal, the site has randomly generated magazine trivia questions on each page; a wonderful afternoon diversion!)

Holiday shopping made easy! Get your magazines today.

* MoneySense won Magazine of the Year (Print) while won Magazine of the Year (Digital).

NMA winner named a ‘Great Montrealer’

Writer/economist Pierre Fortin — three times a National Magazine Award winner for his regular columns in L’actualité — was named one of this year’s Great Montrealers by the Metropolitan Montreal Board of Trade earlier this week.

Dr. Fortin is an emeritus professor in economics at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) whose work in the economics of US-Canada free tradethe labour marketsubsidized child carepopulation growth and minimum wage have earned him a fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada and a Governor General’s Gold Medal, among other accolades. He was once the chief economic advisor to former Quebec premier René Lévesque.

His highly regarded columns in L’actualité have been nominated for 7 National Magazine Awards; he won Gold in 2003 and 2008, and Silver in 2007.

According to its press release, the Academy of Great Montrealers now consists of 118 members named since 1978. Each year the Board of Trade honours individuals “who have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the community in their respective spheres of activity, whether that be economic, social, cultural, or scientific.”

Awards all around: New NMAF Professional Resources

Today the NMAF is debuting a Professional Resources section on its website that contains, among other things, an extensive listing of awards programs out there for Canadian writers and artists.

Having discussed with the Canadian magazine industry the need for a centralized location for awards, grants and other opportunities available to Canadian magazine (and other media) writers and artists, the NMAF took up the challenge of creating this resource, which includes awards for magazine journalism, young writers and journalistic organizations; fellowships and grants; and writing contests for fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

The NMAF invites users of this resource to provide their feedback and suggest other awards that might benefit Canadian magazine writers and artists. Check it out.

[Special thanks is due to freelance writer Lisa Bendall for encouraging this project.]

Call for Judges

Each year the National Magazine Awards Foundation relies on over two hundred volunteer judges to evaluate the trove of wonderful submissions we receive from magazines and individuals across the country.

This year we are looking for new judges to serve on English, French and bilingual juries for written categories, as well as juries for visual, digital, integrated and special categories. Judges ideally should be veterans of the magazine industry in editing, publishing, writing, creative direction, illustration, photography or circulation, or offer expertise in a particular field pertinent to the National Magazine Awards.

To nominate yourself or a colleague as a judge, or for more information, peruse the list of NMA Categories and the NMAF Judging Process, and contact our office at staff [at]

Last call for NMAF internship applications

The NMAF is accepting applications for two (2) paid internship positions, from December 2011 – June 2012. Remuneration includes a stipend of $1250 and two tickets to the National Magazine Awards gala next year. The (extended) deadline to apply is Friday, November 18.

Read all about it and send us your application posthaste!

Illustrating NMA-winning illustrators

An interesting item over at has National Magazine Award-winning illustrators Gary Taxali and Graham Roumieu sitting down together for a beer and a chat about their craft, with the edited record of the event presented as a comic strip.

Gary Taxali and Graham Roumieu have won 6 National Magazine Awards between them, and have garnered 28 nominations overall for Illustration and Spot Illustration. We’ll leave it to you to visit the Awards Archive to find out who’s won what.

Call for Outstanding Achievement nominees

While the submissions process for the 2011 National Magazine Awards is still a few weeks away (Dec 1), it is never too early to submit candidates for the special Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.

The NMAF’s most prestigious individual prize since its inception in 1990, this award is open to circulation experts, editors, marketing, sales and promotion professionals, publishers, designers, production managers — in short, to everyone in the Canadian magazine industry. It cannot be given posthumously.

The nomination consists of a letter from the nominator indicating the candidate’s name, title and career achievements, with supporting letters from at least two other individuals. The deadline for nominations is March 1, 2012. There is no fee.

The Judging Committee of the NMAF will consider the nominations, along with nominations from members of the Committee itself. The Board of the NMAF will select the winner. Nominees not selected for the award may be kept under consideration an additional two years.

Send nominations to the NMAF office. Previous winners include D.B. Scott, Terry Sellwood, Sally Armstrong, John Macfarlane, Lynn Cunningham, Robert Fulford, Jean Paré, Michael de Pencier, and more.

One award missing from CBC Massey lecturer’s trophy case

Starting today and continuing through the week you can listen to the 2011 CBC Massey Lecture series, starring well-known New Yorker contributor Adam Gopnik, who is presenting his series of essays on winter (Winter: Five Windows on the Season).

The bio of Adam on the CBC’s website notes that he is “a three-time winner of the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism”; this matches almost verbatim what you’ll find on his New Yorker bio.

Point of clarification: these accolades are from the American National Magazine Awards. However, Adam Gopnik is also a Canadian National Magazine Award laureate: In 2007 The Walrus published his essay “The Mindful Museum,” which won a Gold award in the Arts & Entertainment category.

So tune in and hear four-time National Magazine Award winner Adam Gopnik present his critical reflections on Canada’s most iconic season.

NMA director wins gold at ADCC

Congratulations are in order to recently elected NMAF board member Brian Morgan, by day the Creative Director at The Walrus, who took home the gold prize in the Magazine Covers category at the Advertising and Design Club of Canada (ADCC) awards yesterday. The captivating (and uniquely hued) April 2011 cover of the magazine was the favourite of the judges. Brian also won a National Magazine Award in 2009 in the Best Single Issue category.

Way to go, Brian!

NMA Humourist Allan Fotheringham at TIWF

Hall of Famer Canadian journalist Allan Fotheringham, who once defeated himself for a National Magazine Award (he took Gold and Honourable Mention for Humour in 1979), will be reading from his new book, Boy from Nowhere: A Life in Ninety-One Countries (Dundurn Press) at the Thousand Islands Writers Festival this Sunday, November 6, in Brockville, Ontario. (More details here.)

Magazine fans of a certain generation (or two) probably know Allan best for his back-page column that appeared in Maclean’s magazine for 27 years. The acerbic “Dr. Foth,” as he was often known, regularly leaves a trail of witty sobriquets behind him (the Holy Mother Corporation; Jurassic Clark; Coma City).

(Surely his most beloved epigram of Canadian politics is: “In the Maritimes, politics is a disease, in Quebec a religion, in Ontario a business, on the Prairies a protest and in British Columbia, entertainment.”)

So if you’re in the neighbourhood, you won’t want to miss him speak.

‘Words Aloud’ will feature NMA winner Steven Heighton

This year’s eighth installment of the Words Aloud festival — November 4, 5 and 6 at the Durham Arts Gallery in the autumn-colours-drenched town of Durham, Ontario — promises its eager audiences the best in Spoken Word from across Canada (and New York City).

It’s “a magical alchemy of spoken word’s full range,” say the organizers. Wow! Among the noted participants is four-time National Magazine Award winner (thrice for Fiction; once for Poetry) Steven Heighton, who is on the schedule for a Saturday evening reading and a Sunday afternoon workshop.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, drop by. Tickets are on sale now.

NMAF Internships: Apply Today!

[This post has been updated] The NMAF is announcing a call for applications for two (2) paid internship positions, from December 2011 – June 2012. Remuneration includes a stipend of $1250 and two tickets to the National Magazine Awards gala next year.

The pair of interns will join us in our Toronto office for an average of 6-10 hours per week (not to exceed 15), though during off-peak times some duties may be accomplished remotely. Duties include verifying and sorting submissions, liaising with magazines and individual applicants to the NMAs, fact checking and copy editing NMAF promotional material, research, assisting with the development of creative ideas for the NMA gala, and assisting with media outreach and promotion.

Candidate requirements include career aspirations in the Canadian magazine industry (including but not limited to journalism students), ability to work independently and meet tight deadlines, French-language aptitude, and a general passion for magazines.

Read more about the internship here and send your application (cover letter, resume, at least one letter of reference) to staff [at], or by post to:

National Magazine Awards Foundation
425 Adelaide St West, Suite 700
Toronto, ON, M5V 3C1

The deadline is November 11 November 18, 2011, so don’t hesitate! Come join our team at the National Magazine Awards Foundation.