How to write a certificate of appreciation

how to write a certificate of appreciation

How to Write a Name On An Award

Plaque or Certificate?

How would I engrave a name on a plaque for someone who was a governor? Governor Joe Smith ?

We are giving our mayor a certificate. How should we would write his name on the certificate? Do we use Mayor Joe Smith ?

-- Tim, Vienna, VA

A District Court judge will be the speaker at our graduation ceremony and we will present him with an award we give annually. I was wondering whether to put J.D. after his name on the award? Is it Joe A. Smith. Or is it Joe A. Smith, JD ?

-- Roger M. in Arkansas

Dear Norma, Tim & Roger,

It's done different ways.

1) The basic way to do it is just to list their full name :

When you inscribe a plaque, award or certificate to just their name it emphasizes that the award is for them without reference to any office or position they might hold or have held. The honor is to them as a person without regard to how their name is written at a particular time in their life.

2) But, I've seen more than just the name included. When you use the official form of their name and include other information -- honors, academic post-nominal abbreviations, courtesy titles/honorifics, or military ranks -- it shifts the emphasis to their role / professional activities as reflected in the way their name appears.

The Reverend John Magisano

If you want to use the official form of his or her name, go to the On-Line Guide page on this site (if you don't have a copy of my book) and choose the office the person holds.

Should I Put An Official's Office On a Plaque ?

I sit on the board of a local community organization and am preparing appreciation plaques for several Virginia State Senators and members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Is it appropriate to just use their names (without titles) on the plaques, or should we use the name of their office as well?

If we should use the names of their offices if they hold more than one, which one(s) are appropriate?

We have always used some sort of title/office in the past.

-- Karen Snell, M.D. / in Central Virginia

Dear Dr. Snell:

If you have always presented your plaques with the office listed, I say stay consistent. Since you are honoring them for actions taken while in office. exercising powers or privileges that might accompany their office. and it's consistent with your style to write their name & office, use something like this :

The Honorable (Full Name)

(Name of Office)

If they hold two offices -- inclu de only the office or offices pertinent to the award.

-- Robert Hickey

How to Write the Name of a Deceased Person

On a Certificate of Recognition?

Our parish is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. We are giving Certificates of Recognition to honor our Founding Parishioners. My question is how to list a couple when one person is deceased? The committee recommends putting the living person’s name first, following by the deceased spouse.


If the husband is deceased: Mary & Joseph Smith

If the wife is deceased: Joseph & Mary Smith

After reading your online information under “Deceased,” I don’t think this is correct.

Mary & the late Joseph Smith (if the husband is deceased)



The late Mary & Joseph Smith (if the husband is deceased)

Mary & Joseph (cross) Smith (if the husband is deceased);


Mary (cross) & Joseph Smith (if the wife is deceased).

It is common in our Church to designate someone is deceased by placing a small cross after their name.

-- Powell Dean

Dear Mr. Dean:

The committee's suggested style is something I have never heard of, and don't think makes much sense.

If you are honoring the founding parishioners -- I would list their names without reference to whether the are alive or dead: they were alive when they were founding to the parish!

I question why it's necessary to note who is living and who is dead -- how is this pertinent? Does the committee want historians to be able to look back and know who was alive at the 50th Anniversary Celebration?

May One Add Post-Nominals to One's Name Retroactively ?

Can a person who is awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 2010, put the post-nominal MBE after his name on ''winners'' boards showing that he won golf competitions, prior to him receiving the award of the MBE? This has generated a lot of discussion in the Golf Club and your advise would be warmly welcomed.

-- Jeff Hardison

Dear Mr. Hardison:

It would be odd to rewrite history to include honors and decorations

received later in one's life. It makes me wonder if an Nobel Laureate can go back and have himself listed as such as the presenter of his high school valedictory speech?

I think you are located in the UK, and the British tradition is to include more post-nominals. in more situations. than we do in the US. But including the post-nominal abbreviations on a golf record in any circumstance is an odd policy to me. Are the post-nominals of MDs and others holding graduate degrees and certifications included on list?

In the US post-nominals are used with official situations (regarding one's work) -- but not in personal/social situations.

And even in official situations post-nominals are included just when PERTINENT. E.g., a person with masters in library science would include the post-nominal on a business card if working as a librarian, but if working as an interior decorator. would not. because the degree does not support their performance of the activity.

For example, e ven though MDs tend to use MDs all the time, my Uncle Robert was an MD -- won his country club's championship and was listed simply as (First Name) (Last name) on the plaque in the clubhouse. No. "Dr." No "MD"

Let me know if this approach makes sense to you.

I'd like to be a fly on a wall during your golf club discussions!

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your prompt reply which I find most illuminating. It is not the policy of the Club to use post-nominal abbreviations, as one of my playing partners is also an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and he does not have this after his name on the Honour's board. Naturally he started the conversation, as he keeps the award rather discreet. I feel that your last comment makes eminent sense to me and will keep you appraised of the situation (out of curiosity) if you so wish.

How to Write a Couple's Name on a List?

We are working on formalizing our donor wall at the museum at which I work. I wish to list couples with first name, middle initial, last name and suffix (assuming they have all of these). We typically list the man first, unless the woman has a different last name in which case she goes first. I am struggling with how to address a couple with the same last name, but the man has a suffix. Would it write John M. and Jane L. Smith, Jr. or Jane L. and John M. Smith, Jr. or something else?

Dear SB,

Clearly the problem with those two options i s that she is not Jane L. Smith, Jr.

I note at the New York museums — where have looked to see what they do … they use three forms. The first two are formal, the third one informal:

Mr. and Mrs. John M. Smith, Jr.

John M. Smith, Jr. and Jane L. Smith

Jane and John Smith

The middle one is explained as retaining the "Mr. and Mrs." order

This last one is usually explained as 'keeping his name as a unit"

So back to the New York museums. So I am looking at the wall, trying to figure out their rules, and right there in the middle of the list is something completely different! I assume when I see a wild card -- they used what the donor put on the pledge form. If I have to choose between making the editor/committee happy — and the donor … I would vote for the donor. It's the donor's name, it is their donation, and they should be happy.

Another form you see when couples have different names … man & woman or single sex couple is: Jane L. A pple and Susan M. Z appa .

-- Robert Hickey

How Do I Write a Name on a Memorial?

Daughters of a deceased United States Air Force Colonel have asked for my help for the wording on a headstone/gravestone. I am thinking of:.

Col. John Patrick Delaney

USAF, Retired

I want to purchase a paver (a personalized brick) in a local veterans memorial for my grandfather. He retired from the United States Army as a CW4. His name is Harold E Copper, I have 3 lines, with 14 spaces per line. Any ideas?

Dear Betty & JB:

Deceased persons are referred to by just their NAME. honorifics, ranks, courtesy titles, and post-nominal abbreviations which are parts of a person's name at various times during their lives -- are not included as part of the names of the deceased. Roles and ranks they held during their lives are listed afterwards.

Military tombstones in military cemeteries are just NAME followed by rank and branch of service.

"Retired" is not included. It was pertinent when the person was living and necessary to note that the person was not on active duty. So, in the correct style it would be:

John Patrick Delaney

Colonel USAF

H.E. Copper


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