Traditional and Casual Certificate Fonts

Give Certificates a Traditional Look With Traditional Fonts

You can use any fonts you want for a certificate, but for a traditional look, use a blackletter or script font for the title of the certificate. The choice of font determines whether the certificate is formal or casually modern.

Blackletter and Uncial Fonts—Think Old English

Blackletter fonts give your certificate a traditional look. There are many styles available but they all have an "Old English" aspect to their appearance.

No traditional formal certificate is complete without one of these.

  • 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 the Textura look.
  • Uncial fonts aren't just for St. Patrick's Day. JGJ Uncial is curvy and easy to read, but it still has that traditional certificate feel.
  • Carolingian fonts, another of the Celtic collection, has some similarities with the uncials, particularly the Carolingian style St. Charles.
  • Other blackletter-like fonts include Old English Text MT and Parchment. Old English is the quintessential blackletter style. Parchment has extremely ornate capital letters that can be difficult to read. Both are 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.

Use these fonts for the title if you want something more modern that the traditional Old English feel.

  • For something reminiscent of both blackletter or uncial 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 well suited for small bits of text, such as the name of the recipient.
  • Connected, formal script fonts such as Edwardian Script ITC, Vivaldi and the free CommScriptExmouthScriptina and Freebooter Script are 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 difficult to read--especially at small sizes. You might want to put parts of your certificate wording in a serif font for legibility. Classics such as Baskerville, Caslon and Garamond keep your certificates looking traditional but readable. For a modern certificate, use one 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 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 using all caps with blackletter and script fonts.
  • If you need to drop below 15 points or if the certificate has a long paragraph, switch to a more legible serif or sans serif font.
  • Three typeface styles (such as a blackletter title, calligraphy name, and a serif for small text) are the maximum number of typefaces you should use in a single certificate.
  • Watch the character and word spacing, especially when setting title text on a curved path.

These are not the only fonts you can use for award certificates, but these are the styles that give your certificates a traditional, formal or appearance—or one with modern overtones—when coupled with traditional wording and graphics on parchment paper.