Choosing the Right Award Wording

Awards without Wording

One important, but often overlooked, element of creating recognition awards for your organization’s members, employees or volunteers is choosing the right wording.

There are no set rules for wording a plaque or other recognition because the message will vary depending on factors such as size of the award and the reason the award is being presented. However, there is a common structure that most plaques and awards follow.

While the order of the details may differ slightly, be sure to include the following information when designing a plaque.

Award Heading

When you’re recognizing someone with a plaque or award, it is customary to include a heading at the top. Though it’s perfectly acceptable to use a simple and straightforward heading such as “Certificate of Achievement” or “Employee of the Month Award,” it is also acceptable to get creative by using a clever title that reflects the type of recognition the person is receiving.

Presentation Line

The presentation line is a short line of text that typically follows the title and may use phrases such as “is hereby presented to,” or “is awarded to.” When space permits, this line can be used to include both the recipient’s name and title.

Recipient Section

After the presentation line, the next section of your award should specify who is being honored. This is the most important part of the award, so it is usually emphasized with a special script that helps it stand out. Additionally, it’s customary to enlarge the name of the person, people or group receiving the award to make the section more eye-catching. Prior to finalizing the design of your award, be sure to double check the spelling of the recipient’s name to ensure it’s correct.

Award Presenter

When the wording on a plaque or award is more formal, you may consider including a line following the recipient section that notes who the award is coming from. However, this line isn’t always necessary depending on the design. Some plaques and awards will prominently display the award presenter’s logo, eliminating the need for an engraved or etched line dedicated to the presenter.

Award Description

The award description is where you will state the reason for the award. The description can be as simple as a sentence or as long as a paragraph, but the less verbose, the better. It will be used to expound on the award heading by providing details about the award recipient’s accomplishment.

If the awardee is being recognized for a project or event they worked on, note that. If a new milestone was reached, include that detail specifically. Awards are meant to be keepsakes and many people keep them forever. The more detail you include, the more memorable the award will be in the future.


The date the plaque was presented or the year in which the person is being recognized is usually included somewhere on the award. If the year is being featured alone, it can be paired with the heading near the top of the award or at the very end. When the date of the presentation is being used, it’s customary that it be included at the bottom of the recognition item or written within the description.

If you’re in need of a plaque, award or another recognition item, view our selection online, give us a call at (850) 878-7187 or visit one of our Tallahassee showrooms to speak with one of the recognition experts at Awards4U.