How to Design a Plaque

Written by c.k. adams
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How to Design a Plaque
An award ceremony commemorates the winner with a plaque. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

A custom plaque commemorates special occasions or persons. Plaque makers engrave text into a metal plate on the front of a base. As plaque design is particular to the recipient and event, designs range from traditional gold trim and black plates to modern bamboo plaques. Many plaque stores sell designs online, so you can view all available possibilities and select a design based on your needs, or design your own plaque using the site's plaque-creator tools.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    View online plaque galleries to understand different styles and textures that are available. Designs usually contain a plate made of gold or silver that contains engraved text and/or images with trim on the borders. The plate adheres to a base made of a variety of possible materials that can range from wood to onyx. You also select the shape of plaque, such as a shield or simple rectangle.

  2. 2

    Contact a local sign or trophy shop that makes plaques. A novelty shop, such as Things Remembered, or a major department store may offer different plaques and engraving. These stores also provide more in-store examples of different bases, plates and fonts.

  3. 3

    Sketch a draft for the design of the plaque. The theme, text and shape are particular to the recipient and occasion. For example, if you want to celebrate a graduation or special achievement, you want to include the person's name, reference to the event and a date to commemorate the event. Other ideas are more simple, such as a gift plaque for Father's Day that has "No. 1 Dad" engraved on a plate with the father's name below.

  4. 4

    Write down the text to be engraved on the plate. Most plaque makers charge by word or letter, so choose a phrase that encompasses the commemoration but remains succinct. You may also receive additional charges for using different fonts. Thicker fonts press more deeply into the plate, allowing you to view and read the words more easily. Preview font types in a word processing program on your computer if in doubt of what a font will look like on the plate.

  5. 5

    Create a plaque with the help of online plaque retailers. provides popular phrases for different themes, such as academic achievements or fund-raising recognition. IPlax Patent Plaques provides a full design-a-plaque site, where you select the style, base, plate and trim. also allows you to fully design a plaque online, where you enter the text, select the style and mounting method, and then preview.

  6. 6

    Order the plaque at least three weeks in advance of the date it is being given to the recipient, particularly if you purchase online. You want to have plenty of time to make changes if any errors occur in the engraving. You may also need to allow for a long shipping time, depending on your location.

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