Certificates are inexpensive yet impactful documents. Recognition of achievements big or small, they are something to be cherished and therefore command the very best in print quality.

Rewards of this kind span all industries – congratulations offered in education, legal, sport and training sectors to name just a few. But what makes for a good certificate?

The Basics

No matter the field certain sections of a certificate have come to be expected. The first of these is a title – one heading up the paper. This will typically state what the award is for, a degree perhaps, maybe a driver’s license... Your title should leave no ambiguity, acting as a credibility check.

Moving down the page you can then expect to see a presentation line – one declaring that something is ‘awarded to...’

It then makes sense to include a section for the recipient’s name, followed by one for the body or organisation bestowing the award upon them.

A basic certificate will naturally house a generic description of the task or course completed. A standout one will adopt a more personal touch, explaining exactly what that individual excelled in, what set them apart. If a score or ranking is to be included, it will likely sit here.

Finally all certificates should be signed and dated.

Adhere to the aforementioned guidelines and you’re generally on the right track. If you have any questions on what to and what not to include in your design give CMP a call on 01202 739993 and we’ll advise accordingly.


What about graphical elements and the design itself? Your branding will typically drive the overall look and feel. That said, nearly all certificates will encompass a border, a logo, a seal – be it affixed or an image printed onto the document directly – and those standard guidelines upon which information is printed or handwritten.

The rest is up to you.

Settling on a template is a good starter for ten. The layout itself will be influenced by the seriousness of the award.

If you’re going to print to laud drunken antics on a stag do you can afford to design something light-hearted and ‘quirky’ in nature.

A more professional ceremony will warrant a serious approach, devoid of garish colours and outlandish touches.

Sizing is another key component. Your typical certificate will be printed onto A4 (210mm x 297mm). Seldom will organisations go much bigger, however A5 (148mm x 210mm) and A6 (105mm x 148mm) are commonplace at smaller events. Here at CMP we’ll work to your guidelines. Bear in mind many a recipient will hope to frame and display their certificate – so make it worth their while.

Another significant consideration is the paper type you plump for. These are many and varied. Uncoated, Silk, Gesso, Laid, Rives Shetland, Pearl Polar, Pearl Oyster, Nettuno, Fresco Gesso, Acquerrello and more are available depending on your budget and the print company you partner with.

Each has their merits.

Uncoated – Typically associated with letterheads or printing paper, uncoated is surface sized and therefore sturdy. It provides a traditional finish, allowing ink to bleed into the paper in such a fashion as to give a rich colour.

Silk – Perhaps the most popular paper type, silk gives a cross between a gloss and matt finish. It has the added bonus of being easy to write onto with ballpoint pens.

Gesso – High-end. A classy, uncoated paper that comes with an off white shade and hammer effect felt. You’re more likely to see examples at big events.

Rives Shetland – A textured, uncoated paper encompassing a speckled line pattern. Akin to a fine woollen fabric.

Sirio Pearl Polar – If you crave a luxurious sheen that truly makes the print stand-out, this is the paper for you. Creating a metallic pearlescent finish, SPP is uniquely coated on both sides.

Pear Oyster – More in keeping with wedding invites, folders and menus, Pearl Oyster can provide a shimmer like finish.

Nettuno – A felt marked paper that comes with a linear finish.

Franco Gesso – Uncoated paper again typically associated with stationary. Comes with a lightly hammered surface texture.

Acquerrello – Cotton Italian mould made watercolour paper. Its softness compliments elegant textures and fine lines.

If you would like to learn more about paper types, and which best suits your certificate, speak to our in-house experts on 01202 739993.

Certificate Fraud

A sad but undeniable trend is that of certificate fraud. A thirst for fake qualifications and/or credentials has grown in the last decade. Indeed more and more people are relying on such documentation to land jobs, secure promotions and bypass immigration protocol. Fake certificates have gained increased commercial value, making diligence all the more important.

So how do we detect certificate fraud? There are – thankfully - a handful of tell-tell signs.

The absence of the aforementioned stamp or seal is usually a big giveaway. End of season presentations for the junior football club may come without but the more significant the event; the more certain an embossed, stamped or raised seal.

Pay careful attention to fonts also. It is considered bad practice to include more than four. A litany of typefaces should raise alarm bells.

Alignment meanwhile is fairly consistent across all official certification. Expect contents to be centred, question anything else.

Beware of several handwriting styles, multiple signatures and informal language to boot.

Detecting Certificate Fraud

Printers have gone to great lengths to counteract certificate fraud in recent years. Holograms and foils are now commonplace – a visible deterrent against counterfeit.

UV inks are also apparent in a great many official documents. These may be spread across an entire certificate in a fluorescing, invisible pattern. Furthermore, they can only be detected when placed beneath ultra violet lighting. Similarly, thermochromic ink is designed to react to heat changes, providing instant validation – or incrimination.

Elsewhere sequential numbering helps with auditing on the one hand but fraud on another. Every certificate printed comes with its own unique reference. No two should ever exist.

Micro text is an ultra thin font lauded for being extremely difficult to scan or colour copy. Heavyweight watermarked paper comes with a unique coating intended to rule out fraudulent alteration. And bank note technology consists of complex, fine line relief patterns – the like that can never be replicated.

If you would like advice on how best to avoid certificate fraud call CMP on 01202 739993.

Why CMP?

The demand and need for certificates is constant. Most traditional printers will only accept orders of 100 or more but here at CMP we offer short print runs at reasonable rates, providing the much sought after flexibility smaller organisations in particular crave.

Latest technologies meanwhile allow us to produce work within 24 hours. We'll ensure you meet any deadline.

Contact us today to discuss your print quote or submit artwork as a PDF in a CMYK colour space in order to get the ball rolling.

"Thank you all for a fab job on my books! They arrived today and I'm really happy!!! Got there in the end despite the teething errors on my part!!!!"


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