You can use any fonts you want for a certificate. But for a traditional look, you may want to include some Blackletter or similar font for at least the title of your certificate.
Blackletter and Uncial Fonts
Blackletter fonts give your certificate a very traditional look. There are several styles. Each of the style links goes to a sample page that includes several free fonts in the listed style.
- Textura fonts such as Minim, as seen in the example image as second instance of in recognition of, provide a very typical Blackletter look.
- Rotunda fonts are a little easier to read than Textura and some other Blackletter fonts.
- Schwabacher fonts, such as the
second instance ofCertificate in the example image, 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 aren't just for St. Patrick's Day. JGJ Uncial, the first instance of Certificate in the example is curvy, easy to read, but still has that traditional certificate feel.
- Carolingian fonts, another of the Celtic/St. Patrick's Day collection, has some similarities with the uncials. The third instance of Certificate, in the example image, is the Carolingian style St. Charles.
- Other Blackletter-like fonts seen in the example are Old English Text MT and Parchment. Old English is a very traditional Blackletter style. Parchment has extremely ornate capital letters that could be difficult to read but also are very formal yet curvy and flowing.
Script and Calligraphy Fonts
A formal script or calligraphy-style font for the name of the recipient makes a good complement to a certificate title in Blackletter. Or, use these fonts for the title if you want something a little friendlier.
- Bispo is a free font described as being "in the style of italic chancery calligraphy." See the first instance of John Smith in the example image.
- For something reminiscent of both Blackletter or Unicial styles and a script or calligraphy font, try something like Matura MT Script Capitals or Blackadder ITC, both seen in the example image. Both fonts have fancy, distinctive capital letters which make them best suited for small bits of text, such as the name of the recipient.
- Connected, formal script fonts such as Edwardian Script ITC, Vivaldi (both seen in example image), and the free CommScript, Exmouth, Scriptina, and Freebooter Script are very elegant choices for an award certificate, especially for the name of the recipient.
Classic Serif and Sans Serif Fonts
When you have a lot of text such as a long description section, Blackletter and Script fonts can be more difficult to read — especially at smaller sizes. You might want to put parts of your certificate wording in a serif font. Classics
such as Baskerville, Caslon, and Garamond keep your certificates looking traditional but readable. For a more modern style of certificate, consider some of the classic sans serif fonts
such as Avant Garde, Futura, or Optima. Be bold and mix a Blackletter title with sans serif for the rest of the text.
Font Usage Tips
Size and capitalization matters with these fonts.
- When using some Blackletter fonts be aware that they may contain some 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 need to drop down below around 15 points or so or have some long paragraphs, consider switching to a more legible serif or sans serif font.
- Three typeface styles (such as a Blackletter title, Calligraphy text, and a serif for some small text) is probably the maximum number of typefaces you should use in a single certificate (excluding any text within a logo).
- Watch your character and word spacing, especially when setting title text on a curved path.
These are not the only fonts you might want to use for award certificates but these are the styles that will give your certificates a more traditional, formal, or semi-formal appearance, especially when coupled with traditional wording
and graphics on parchment paper