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 The idea of engraving plaques and awards can be daunting. After all, whatever you choose to say is permanent. You want it to be special and impactful. The good news is, even if you’re not a writer,  we can help you find the right words.

K2 Awards & Apparel has engraved thousand of plaques and awards with custom messages, so we’ve seen it all. Over the years, customers’ messages have made us smile, laugh, cry and, unfortunately, sometimes cringe. Here’s a bit of what we’ve learned about what works — and what doesn’t.

The best messages for engraved plaques are:

  • Thoughtful
  • Simple
  • Brief
  • Complimentary
  • General
  • Relevant
  • Sincere
  • Personalized
  • Proofread

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This may be all the guidance you need to come up with the perfect plaque message. But if you could use a little more explanation, read on.

Show Thoughtfulness

Take a few minutes to think about what you’re really trying to commemorate and what why it matters to the plaque recipient. It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but the genuine effort you put in will show.

Keep It Simple

Resist the urge to add overly formal, flowery words. Too much formality can be confusing or come off as uptight, insincere or even condescending. Plus, it’ll use up more of your precious space.

Instead, keep the wording on plaques and awards simple and clear for the most impact.

Be Brief

For one thing, you have limited space to work with on any plaque, award or trophy. But even if you didn’t, less is more.

It’s OK if you get straight to the point. Your words may actually have a greater impact if there are fewer of them.

Compliment the Recipient

You don’t generally give out plaques and awards for mediocrity, so don’t be afraid to give the praise that’s due. Words like “excellence” and “bravery” and “generosity” are often appropriate for this context. Tell the recipient why they deserve this recognition.

Write In General Terms

You may be giving a plaque award for a very specific piece of academic research entitled “The History and Significance of Cats in Hieroglyphics Under the Reign of Cleopatra.” But plaques don’t need to be that specific. In fact, it’s often better if they’re not.

Rather than include all the details behind the recognition, try a broader summary, such as, “In Recognition of Academic Excellence.”

Stay Relevant

While general messages are OK for plaques, be careful not to get so general that your words lose relevance. For example, you wouldn’t want to just say “In Recognition of Excellence.” That raises the question, “Excellence in what?”

Also resist the urge to add miscellaneous flattery that may be true but veers off topic. Your plaque recipient may be an excellent magician as well as an excellent academic, but the two aren’t related.

Be Sincere

Make sure what you say couldn’t accidentally come off as snarky or sarcastic — unless you’re trying to be funny and you’re sure the recipient won’t be offended.

Personalize It

Plaques and awards are most meaningful when they have the name of the recipient engraved on them, even if it’s a whole team or organization’s name. If it makes sense for the occasion, you may also want to include a date or just a year.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Nothing taints a beautiful plaque award like a careless typo. Read your message carefully, then step away for a little while and check it later with fresh eyes. When in doubt, have someone else double-check your work.

Refer to Some Plaque Wording Examples

Sometimes, it helps to have an example to start from. Feel free to borrow the wording below and customize it to make it your own.

Professional and Academic Plaque Award Wording Examples

Marketing Excellence Award
Presented to
Mary Irving
Business Name
June 21, 2018

In Recognition of Outstanding Thought Leadership
Jennifer York
National Honor Roll
Fall Semester
2017

Sports Plaque Wording Example

The Ridgeville Rangers
2018 Season Champions
All for One and One for All

Bravery and Heroism Award Plaque Wording Example

Honoring Patricia Jones
for Exceptional Bravery and Heroism
Presented May 15, 2016

Memorial Plaque Wording Example

In Honor of Loretta White
May 5, 1942 — November 2, 1011
Loving Wife, Mother, Sister and Grandmother
Forever Remembered and Loved

Participation Award Plaque Wording Example

Charlie Smith
Hartland Youth Philanthropy Club
2018
Making Our Town A Better Place

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