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40+ Free Printable Award Certificate Templates (Word | PDF)

An award certificate is a document with an inscription to recognize achievements.

It contains information regarding an award given by a company, organization, institution, or individual to a person or an entity. Such documents are widely used to appreciate achievements in different fields such as music, sports, education, entertainment, and many more. Award certificates can be given during a ceremony or privately, or they can be sent digitally as well.

Award certificates can also be issued to the participants of an event for the completion of a task. Apart from being used as references for future achievements and accolades, they are also souvenirs for the recipients. It shows that the employer is appreciative of the worker’s effort and dedication to the position.  These awards also motivate other employees within the company to work harder and receive recognition to feel valued.

According to research, employees in social work fields such as volunteering, health care, and education tend to value recognition more than money. 

This article will discuss various types of award certificates and their components. For organizations that wish to reward their employees for exceptional performance and students for academic excellence, the article will provide a guide on how to prepare these appreciation certificates.

Award Certificate Templates

If you have to issue award certificates to your employees or students, making multiple certificates may be difficult. You will benefit immensely by using our premade downloadable templates, which save you time. They allow you to effortlessly create an award certificate by editing the placeholders.

Choose the one that best suits your organization’s needs:

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      History of Certificates

      The history of award certificates can be traced back to ancient times, when they were used as a form of recognition for military service and bravery in battle, such as saving another soldier’s life or capturing enemy soldiers alive.

      The earliest known award certificate was from the Roman Emperor Claudius in 46 A.D., given to a freed slave who had served him well. In ancient Rome, soldiers would receive an award called a “certificate of commendation,” which was given by the emperor himself. 

      The first modern-day award certificate was created in 1887 by George Westinghouse Jr., founder of Westinghouse Electric Company, and his wife, Marguerite. They made this certificate as a way to recognize and reward the efforts of employees. They were also used to motivate employees to work harder.

      Types of Award Certificates

      An award acknowledges and appreciates exceptional achievements. There are many different types of certificates, but some of the most common are handmade, printed, and digital certificates, as discussed below:

      Handmade certificates

      This is the classic certificate, the most common in the mid to late 20th century. Handmade certificates often feature a gold seal and embossed lettering. They were made on thick handmade paper with the recipient’s name written with calligraphy.

      They were usually framed and were a beautiful way for employers to show appreciation. Handmade certificates are perfect for display in the home or office of the recipient and are sure to be cherished for years to come.

      Printed certificates

      Printed certificates are the most common and widely used. The demand for printed certificates has increased since printers became widely available in the 1980s. Parchment paper is one of the best and most popular choices for printing these. Its vintage appearance and adaptability add individuality to any certificate. It is available in a variety of styles, finishes, and densities. Calligraphy was replaced by new, stylish fonts that saved time and were more convenient.

      Digital certificates

      Digital certificates are the most recent. The emergence of the internet in the 21st century has shown innovative ways for organizations to award their employees. Digital certificates have a more formal appearance and application.

      Digital certificates are more than just the modern equivalent of conventional certificates; they offer numerous important advantages to organizations and recipients. They require very little resources and can be sent instantly, so recipients do not have to wait to be awarded. To prepare them digitally, templates can be used to generate countless certificates.

      7 Components of Award Certificate

      When preparing an award certificate, you should include specific components to make it official. The elements listed here apply primarily to certificates of achievement, employee, student, or recognition awards, and certificates of participation.

      Title of the certificate

      Usually, at the top of the award certificate, the title is the main headline that shows the document type. It may be as simple as a “Certificate of Achievement” or “Certificate.” Longer titles may include the name of the organization or institution presenting the award or another term such as “Auburn Stationers Employee of the Month Award” or “Award to the Chicago Swimming Tournament Certificate of Participation.”

      Presentation tagline

      This brief phrase typically follows the title and may read “is hereby presented to,” “is awarded to,” or some other variant, followed by the recipient’s name. It might also say something like: “This certificate is given to [Recipient] on [Date] by [Organization/Institution].”

      Recipient’s name

      This is the name of the individual(s) or group receiving the certificate. In order to be as distinctive as possible,the font used for the recipient’s name is larger than the title.

      Name and logo of the organization 

      Some organizations or institutions may incorporate their logo or another image on the certificate. A school may feature its mascot; a tennis club may use an image of a tennis racket; or a picture of a book may be used for a book club. Place the logo on the left side or in the top center so that the certificate looks organized.

      Award description

      The purpose for awarding the certificate is outlined in this section. It may be a brief statement, such as “high grade achieved during an examination,” or a longer statement detailing the accomplishments or special attributes of the awardee. This statement needs to be written accurately and with finesse to highlight why the recipient deserves to be recognized.


      The date the certificate was awarded to the recipient is typically written before or after the description. Generally, the date is written as “2nd of November” or “13th of January 2023.”


      Several award certificates feature a section near the bottom where the institution’s representative authorizing the award signs it. The title or name of the signatory may also appear below the signature. Sometimes, there may be room for two signatures, such as those of the organization head and the recipient’s immediate supervisor or the department head.

      How to Create Award Certificate in Microsoft Word

      Microsoft Word is the quickest way to make an award certificate yourself. Below is a step-by-step guide to creating an award certificate in Microsoft Word by using templates. The advantage of using Microsoft Word is that you may modify specific aspects of the template to achieve the desired result, such as the style, color, text, and font. There are various options to choose from.

      The following is a step-by-step tutorial for creating award certificates in Microsoft Word:

      1. Click on the Start Icon and open Word

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      2. On the side menu on Microsoft Word, click on New


      3. Click on the Search Box and type “Award Certificate” to display the templates.

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      4. From the options provided, select a suitable template and click on Create. The template you have selected will open as your new document.

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      5. Start by adding a customized border to your certificate. Select the Design Tab, and click on Page Borders at the top-right of the menu.

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      6. Click on Custom and choose a border in the Setting dialogue. Apply the border by clicking OK.

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      7. You can now apply the thematic colors of your choice on your certificate. Select Colors on the Design Tab. Move the cursor over the displayed themes to get a preview and choose the one that best suits your certificate needs.

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      8. Double-click on the template title.

      9. On the Home Tab on the top menu, select the Font section.

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      10.  Select the size and font best suited for the title.

      11.  Click on the arrow under Font Color and select a color for the title.

      12. You can choose from different font styles such as bold, underline, or italics for the title.

      13.  Provide personalized text on the title that suitable for the occasion.

      14.  Format the rest of the text on each section similarly, and modify the content to write the your desired text.

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      15.  Click on File and select Print to print the certificate.

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      Tips to Consider

      When creating an award certificate, there are a few things to remember to make sure it is distinct and appears professional.

      The following tips should be considered when designing one:

      Pay attention to the design

      The purpose of an award certificate is to create something memorable and special for the awardee. All design components, from the major to minor aspects, determine how the recipient will perceive the certificate. Leave lots of white space between phrases rather than cramming as much information as possible onto your certificate.

      Otherwise, you risk designing a certificate that appears amateur. When selecting fonts, follow the three-font rule. Using too many fonts can make your award certificate appear crowded and challenging to read.

      Choose appropriate words

      Take utmost care to ensure that the name of the awardee is spelled correctly. If you have any doubts, ask the recipient of the award to write their name for you. Other aspects of the certificate, such as the title and description, should also be double-checked before printing and eventual presentation.

      The words you choose should convey your gratitude to the recipient. You can vary the message in each certificate using different words like “Appreciation”, “Thank You”, “Outstanding”, “Recognition”, “Appreciation”, “Dedication”, “Thanks”, “Grateful”, “Contribution”, “Acknowledgement”.

      Determine the size of the certificate

      Most award certificates are 8.5 x 11 inches, which is the size of a regular sheet of paper. You may also design an award certificate in the sizes 8.5 x 14, 11 x 14, or 11 x 17 inches. The most common layout is landscape, but you may also have your certificates in portrait. Remember to consider the “bleed area,” which is the additional space around the margins that will be trimmed off after printing. It guarantees that your design may extend to the edges of the paper size.

      Choose a theme

      There is no standard strategy for making excellent award certificates; however, you must consider the theme. While some themes, such as neon and pastels, are visually appealing, they convey an informal appearance. If you are designing certificates for employees, avoid using bright colors and instead use black, gray, and blue on white paper. Student award certificates, however, look great with bright themes.

      Add an image

      You may add colorful images to the design in addition to the fundamental components of the award certificate. Images generate validity and enhance the significance of the award in the eyes of the receiver. These may include a QR code with a link to the certificate, a stamp or digital signature of the certificate, the seals of organizations or institutions, or badges of standards.

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          An award certificate is a personalized document to identify and validate someone’s proficiency in a certain area. It proves that the receiver is competent enough to undertake a given activity. It recognizes and acknowledges an individual’s achievements or performance in a particular field. These certificates might be given to employees or students. In the workplace, awarding certificates for exceptional achievement or for acknowledgment acts as motivation for employees to maintain or enhance their performance.

          You may design appealing certificates for your employees by choosing our premade templates. Nevertheless, if you wish to design your own certificate, you can do so by using Microsoft Word. Ensure that you adhere to the fundamental formatting rules for such documents. Follow the step by step guide, avoiding the most frequent errors, and you will be achieve great results. It makes no difference if you design a certificate for a few kindergarten students or prepare certificates for thousands of trainees as long as you create an effective design that will look professional and will be something special for the awardee.

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