Find Traditional Fonts for Certificates

Give official documents the weight they deserve

Certificates you set up and print yourself can be useful for businesses, schools, organizations, and families. Typing a few lines of text and printing the certificate on parchment paper can produce a professional-looking document—if you use appropriate fonts.

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 conveys formality and weight. From there, add script and other fonts as needed to complement the look and enhance legibility.

The following suggestions aren't the only fonts you might use for award certificates, but they're solid choices for a traditional, formal, or semi-formal appearance.

Blackletter and Uncial Fonts

Alphabet in Germany Blackletter font

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Blackletter fonts lend a traditional look. Go to a free fonts website and choose from many fonts in a particular style to make your certificate look professional:

  • Old English Text MT is the classic, traditional blackletter style.
  • 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 spiked look.
  • Fraktur fonts couple the curviness of Schwabacher with the look of Textura.​

You might think of uncial fonts as restricted to holiday use (think St. Patrick's Day), but they're useful for certificates and diplomas, too.

  • JGJ Uncial is curvy and easy to read but still has a traditional certificate feel.
  • The Carolingian style St. Charles is particularly curvy.
  • Parchment has formal, curvy, extremely ornate capital letters that can be difficult to read.

Script and Calligraphy Fonts

Notebook with script calligraphy writing

Laura Salas / EyeEm / Getty Images

A name set in formal script or a calligraphy-style font complements the other elements of a certificate title set in a blackletter font. A script or calligraphic font works well for the title if you want a contemporary-looking certificate.

  • Bispo is a free font described as "in the style of italic Chancery Calligraphy." 
  • For something reminiscent of both blackletter or uncial styles and a script or calligraphy font, try Matura MT Script Capitals or Blackadder ITC. Both have fancy, distinctive capital letters that are well-suited to 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 recipient's name.

Classic Serif and Sans Serif Fonts

The english alphabet in examples of serif font

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Large blocks of text set in blackletter and script fonts are difficult to read, especially at small sizes. A serif font works much better for the smaller bits of text on your certificate. 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, and Optima. Be bold and mix a blackletter title with sans-serif type for the rest of the text.

Font Usage Tips

Forme Antique capital letters

Monrocq Freres / Getty Images 

 Size and capitalization matter with these fonts.

  • Some blackletter fonts contain old-style letterforms, such as an "s" that looks like an "f" and an "A" that looks a bit like a "U". If you don't like the old-style look, see if the font you like includes alternate letterforms.
  • Avoid ALL CAPS with blackletter and script fonts if you want the recipient to be able to read the certificate.
  • If you need to use a size of 15 points or smaller, use a serif or sans serif font to ensure legibility.
  • Don't use more than three styles (e.g., blackletter title, calligraphy text, and a serif for small text) in a single certificate.
  • Watch character and word spacing carefully, especially when setting title text on a curved path.
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