What to Say on an Appreciation Award?

Award Wording

Composition of an award

Appreciation awards can be an effective way to say "Thank You" and show someone that you've noticed their hard work. This can be accomplished with the help of a few thoughtful words on an appreciation award. Your choice of words you use to compose your message reflects the award atmosphere.

Some features should always appear on awards such as the recipient's name and the date the award is given, but others, such as the message, are left up to interpretation depending on the award.

If you follow some basics listed below, the task of composing a concise and meaningful message is not all that hard.

The W’s of an award

The W’s of an award: What, Who, Why, When, and Where is an easy formula that will help you to remember what elements to include in an award composition.

Your award content can be divided into four sections:

  1. What is the award about or who is presenting the award? (The Award Title).

  2. Who is receiving the award? (The Award Recipient’s Name).

  3. Why is the recipient honored? (The Award Description).

  4. When and Where is the award presented? (The signature).

With this information in hand, a typical award inscription might read:

(The Award Title)

Presented To

(Recipient Name)

In Recognition and Appreciation of Your

Ten Years of Tireless and Dedicated Service

(Company Name)


(The text coloring scheme in the example above is used to show different parts of the awards content, it has nothing to do with awards’ layout).

The Award Title

The award title is usually engraved at the top of the award, it is the award headline, it can be either the name of the award such as: “Achievement Award” or the name of the awarding organization such as: “University of California” or a combination of both such as: “XYZ Paints Co. Employee of the Month Award”.

If the name of the award is chosen as an award title then you can use titles like:

  • “Leadership Award”,

  • “For Outstanding Service””,

  • “Outstanding Achievement Award”

  • “Award of Excellence”

  • More examples

such titles let anyone who sees the award know what the person is being recognized for in general leaving the specifics to “The Award Message” section.

In this case the name of the awarding organization is implied in “The Signature” section at the bottom or by having a company logo on the certificate.

Alternatively if the name of the awarding organization is chosen as an award title (use only if the awarding organization is not an individual) then you can use titles like:

  • “Oregon Credit Services”

  • “Beirut City Fire Department”.

The Presentation Line

This is a short line of text, it follows the title and may say:

  • Presented to

  • Awarded to

    • Bestowed upon

    • is presented to

  • is awarded to

  • is hereby presented to

  • is hereby awarded to

  • is given to

  • is hereby bestowed upon

or some other variation.

The presentation line can be skipped.

In some cases the award text starts with an expression or word like: “Recognizing”, in such cases the presentation line is not used.

The Award Recipient’s Name

This is simply the name of the person, persons, or group receiving the award.

Awards should have the recipient’s full name on them. In some cases the recipient’s official title/office is also included. However, the recipient’s name on the award can vary depending on the occasion it is given for.

The following paragraph states recommendations from “Honor and Respect - The official guide to names, titles and forms of address”

The basic way to write a name on an award is just to list the recipient full name. Don't include an honorific such as Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. it emphasizes that the award is for them without reference to any office or position they might have held.

When you include other information -- honors, academic post-nominal abbreviations, courtesy titles, and personal ranks -- it shifts the emphasis to their role / professional activities. e.g.

  • Vincent Esposito, MD

  • The Reverend John Magisano

  • The Honorable Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.

  • Major General Jeffrey Buchanan

  • Sir Edmund Percival Hillary

For office awards, put the name that a person goes by around the office. For example, if a person’s name is Robert, but he goes by Bob, you should put Bob on the award.

If the award is for a fun occasion between friends or a sports team, you can put a nickname on the trophy. For example, if someone’s name is Jane Smith, but her nickname on the team is “the Jet,” you can put the name as Jane Smith “the Jet” on the trophy.

In some cases the recipient's name font size is made to stand out as much as or even more than the title.

Double-check that you have the correct wording and spelling of the recipient's name and, if applicable, his official title.

The Award Description

The award description can be as generic or as personal as you like. You can compose this section by answering this question: Why is the award recipient awarded?

The reason for the award must be explained here. This could be a simple statement such as: “Best in sales for the year” or a lengthier paragraph outlining specific characteristics or achievements of the award recipient.

Here are some example statements:

  • “In Recognition of Your Loyalty & Dedication”,

  • “Best in Sales for the Year”

Consider using tried and true phrasings that will show the formality of the gift, as well as your appreciation. For example:

  • Your unparalleled performance

  • Your efforts are an inspiration to us all

  • We could not have done it without you

However, do not be afraid to put the message in your own words to give it a personal touch.

Steer away from using jargon or acronyms that are not commonly used in the English language. Avoid using “puffed up” words that seem phony. Use simple, everyday words that convey sincere thoughts.

Awards do not have much room to write messages, so make the most of the room that you have and keep the message simple.

The following are seven tips for writing better awards’ messages:

  1. Focus On The Relevant Message

  2. Strike The Appropriate Tone

  3. Be Accurate

  4. Understand Space Limitations

  5. Avoid Redundancy and Verbosity

  6. Give Your Logo Prominence

  7. Use Quotations Carefully

The Signature

The signature section includes the award date but may include the name of the person or group awarding the award if applicable. Sometimes you may want to include two signatories, such as the company president and the recipient's immediate supervisor

Decide how the date of the award should appear on the plaque. Is the date for an accomplishment that took place on a certain date or is it for cumulative achievements made during a month or a year? Should you record the date of the accomplishment or the date the award was given or both?

If printing the full date, consider the range of formats:

  • February 15, 2013

  • Feb. 15, 2013

  • 2/15/2013

  • 2.15.2013

  • February 2013

  • Feb. 2013

  • 02/2013

  • or simply 2013

For consistency purposes, if applicable, look at how dates are typically printed on awards in your organization.


Proofread your text before getting the plaque engraved. Nothing takes the satisfaction out of receiving an appreciation plaque more than noticing that your name is spelled wrong, or some other information is incorrect. Check and double-check your spelling, and check your records to verify the accuracy of what you are saying on the plaque.

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