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Official Opening Plaques - Do’s and Don’ts for choosing wording and material

Choosing the right wording and material for an official opening plaque is crucial. Here I list some do's and don'ts when deciding.

An inscription on an official opening plaque is there to be read.

If the design and content is unexceptional, it will be ignored. An opening plaque should not be mere signage with a few details on; an after-thought sitting awkwardly on a fine new building.

An opening plaque should be part of the new building; something permanent and integral. It is often wise to make the plaque a focal point.

opening plaque for Royal Commonwealth Society


Don't leave it too late. The opening will be set and the plaque needs to be ready. A commemoration plaque could take weeks or months to make.

Don't be afraid to be a little different with the words. 'This building was officially opened by Joe Bloggs' could be replaced with 'Joe Bloggs unveiled this plaque to celebrate....' it's lighter and somehow more fun.

Don't make the plaque too small. Any larger than A3 gives the designer more scope for a good layout.

Don't leave a hole in the wall without having designed the layout of the inscription first. The wording might need a tall portrait shape or wide landscape.

official opening plaque


Do pass the wording around to get views and opinions from others.

Do bear in mind the fabric of the building and its age. This will help determine the lettering style.

Do involve the designer at an early stage, and be prepared for necessary changes to help balance the inscription.

Do leave enough time for the inscription to be checked with the Palace if a member of the Royal family is unveiling the plaque.

Do consider alternative shapes for the plaque; oblong, circular or oval. Tall and narrow... anything which will catch the eye of a passer-by and make them believe that this plaque was thought about and carefully considered.

Do look at several materials and choose the best material for the position and size of the plaque. The amount and size of the lettering will also determine the most suitable material.

royal opening plaque

Template for choosing the wording of the opening plaque

Here is a very simple template to make sure that you have included the most basic information on the plaque. Also, have a look at our gallery of opening plaques for more examples.


The name of the institution or the crest or logo


this building was opened

this plaque was unveiled by/on

opened by/on

this plaque recognising ...was unveiled by

was named by

this building was named after


HRH Majesty The Queen


on Thursday 20th July 2014


to commemorate the official opening of

following an extensive restoration programme

official opening plaque

Below are two examples of opening plaque designs, showing ways you can use nesting letters to achieve the desired spacing.

opening plaque design
Fergus W
Written by

Fergus Wessel

Designer and letter-carver

Fergus created Stoneletters Studio in 2003, after training at the Kindersley Workshop. He is a member of the prestigious Master Carver's Association.