Traditional Certificate Fonts

Close up of a certificate
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Certificates you set up and print yourself can be useful in businesses, schools, organizations, and families. By setting a few lines of type and printing the certificate on parchment paper, you end up with a professional looking product -- if you use the right font.

For a traditional-looking certificate, select a blackletter style or similar font for the title of the certificate. These styles have a distinctly Old English look that screams "certificate" or "diploma." From there, add script and other fonts as needed to complement the look and for legibility.

Blackletter and Uncial Fonts

Alphabet in Germany Blackletter font

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Blackletter fonts give your certificate a traditional look, and there are plenty of fonts to choose from to make your certificate look professional.

  • Textura fonts such as Minim provide a typical blackletter look.
  • Rotunda fonts are a little easier to read than Textura and some other blackletter fonts.
  • Schwabacher fonts have a touch of spikiness about them.
  • Fraktur fonts have some of the curviness of Schwabacher coupled with a little bit of Textura look.​

Uncial fonts might be immediately recognized as a holiday font, but it's not just for St. Patrick's Day.

  • JGJ Uncial is curvy and easy to read, but it still has a traditional certificate feel.
  • The Carolingian style St. Charles is a particularly curvy font.
  • Old English Text MT and Parchment are other blackletter-style fonts. Old English is a  traditional blackletter style. Parchment has extremely ornate capital letters that can be difficult to read but also are formal yet curvy and flowing.

Script and Calligraphy Fonts

Notebook with script calligraphy writing

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A formal script or calligraphy-style font for the name of the recipient is a good complement to a certificate title in a blackletter font. You can also use a script or calligraphic font for the title if you want a contemporary-looking certificate.

  • Bispo is a free font described as being "in the style of italic Chancery Calligraphy." 
  • For something reminiscent of both blackletter or Unicial styles and a script or calligraphy font, try Matura MT Script Capitals, or Blackadder ITC. Both fonts have fancy, distinctive capital letters that make them best suited for small bits of text, such as the name of the recipient.
  • Connected, formal script fonts such as Edwardian Script ITCVivaldiExmouthScriptina and Freebooter Script are elegant choices for an award certificate, especially for the name of the recipient.

Classic Serif and Sans Serif Fonts

The english alphabet in examples of serif font

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When you have a lot of text such as a long description section, blackletter and Script fonts are difficult to read -- especially at small sizes. It is fine to put parts of your certificate wording in a serif font. Classic serif fonts such as Baskerville, Caslon, and Garamond keep your certificates looking traditional but readable. For a more modern style certificate, consider some of the classic sans serif fonts such as Avant Garde, Futura, or Optima. Be bold and mix a blackletter font style title with sans-serif type for the rest of the text.

Font Usage Tips

Forme Antique capital letters

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 Size and capitalization matters with these fonts.

  • When using some blackletter fonts be aware that they may contain old style letterforms (such as an "s" that looks like an "f" or an "A" that looks a bit like a "U"). Alternate letterforms may be included in the font if you don't like the old style look.
  • Avoid ALL CAPS with blackletter and script fonts if you want the recipient to be able to read the certificate.
  • If you need to drop in size to 15 points or smaller, switch to a serif or sans serif font, which will be more legible.
  • Three typeface styles such as a blackletter title, Calligraphy text, and a serif for some small text is the maximum number of typefaces you should use in a single certificate.
  • Watch the character and word spacing carefully, especially when setting title text on a curved path.

These are not the only fonts you might use for award certificates but these are the styles that give your certificates a traditional, formal or semi-formal appearance -- especially when coupled with traditional wording and graphics on parchment paper.