11 Parts of an Award Certificate

How many of these elements does your certificate design have?

An award certificate for recognizing achievements is a simple piece of paper. There is usually a title plus the name of the recipient but there are also a few more components that make up most award certificates.

The components discussed here apply primarily to certificates of achievement; employee, student, or teacher recognition awards; and certificates of participation. Diplomas and similar official documents of certification may have additional elements related to their legal status.

Necessary Text Elements

Most informal certificates include the following items:

  • Title: Usually, at the top of the certificate, the title is the main headline that usually reflects the type of document. It may be as simple as the word Award or Certificate of Achievement. Longer titles might incorporate the name of the organization giving the award or some catchy title such as Johnson Tileworks Employee of the Month Award or Award to the Wise Spelling Bee Certificate of Participation.
  • Presentation Line: This short line of text usually follows the title and may say is awarded to, is hereby presented to or some other variation, followed by the recipient. Alternately, it may read something like: This certificate is presented on [DATE] by [FROM] to [RECIPIENT].
  • Recipient: Simply the name of the person, persons, or group receiving the award. In some cases, the recipient's name is enlarged or made to stand out as much as or even more than the title.
  • From: This element presents the name of the person or organization bestowing the award. It may be explicitly stated in the text of the certificate or implied by the signature at the bottom or perhaps by having a company logo on the certificate.
  • Description: The reason for the certificate is explained here. It could be a simple statement (such as a high score in a bowling tournament) or a lengthier paragraph outlining specific characteristics or achievements of the award recipient. The best award certificates are personalized to reflect exactly why the recipient is receiving the recognition.
  • Date: The date when the certificate was earned or presented is usually written out before, within, or after the description. Typically the date is spelled out as in 31st Day of October or Fifth Day of May 2017.
  • Signature: Most certificates have a space near the bottom where the certificate is signed by a representative of the organization authorizing the award. The name or title of the signatory may also be included below the signature. Sometimes there may be space for two signatories, such as the company president and the recipient's immediate supervisor.

Important Graphic Elements

Beyond the text elements, most informal awards and certificates include a handful of common visual motifs:

  • Border: Not every certificate has a frame or border around it, but it's a common component.
  • Logo: Some organizations may include a logo or some other image related to the organization or subject of the certificate. For example, a school might include their mascot, a club might use a picture of a golf ball for a golf club award, or a picture of a book for a summer reading program participation certificate.
  • Seal: A certificate might have a seal affixed (such as stick-on gold starburst seal) or have an image of a seal printed directly on the certificate.
  • Lines: Some certificates may include blank spaces while others will have lines, like a fill-in-the-blank form where the name, description, date, and signature go (to be either typed or handwritten).
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