Paper stock certificates used to be the only way for an investor to prove stock ownership. Although many companies now favor electronic registration, certificates remain a viable option. For Limited Liability Companies that issue membership certificates, and for privately held businesses that sell stock to private investors or offer stock options to their employees, paper certificates are still common. Instead of purchasing generic certificates or customizing a template, help your business stand out by designing your own.

Step 1.

Draft the wording for the front and back of the certificate. On the front side, include your company’s full legal name, the name of the person to whom you’re issuing the stock, the number of shares the certificate represents and the issue date; leave a space for the business owner or corporate officers to sign. On the back side, summarize "fine print" legal rights and limitations. For example, explain that there is a waiting period between when an employee receives stock as part of a private company's stock option and can sell it.

Step 2.

Set the page orientation of an 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet of 32-pound paper to landscape, as most stock certificates run horizontally across the page. Then set page margins as wide as possible, about 0.5 inches on all four sides. Choose the center alignment option so the certificate has an equal amount of white space on both sides. Turn on paragraph marks using the show-hide option if you need help with spacing or placement. Once you finish the first certificate, save it as a template.

Step 3.

Find a border using the Borders and Shading or the Clip Art feature in your word processing program, or visit websites such as or that offer free downloadable borders. Follow the Walt Disney Company’s lead and include a unique background that allows you to use a stock certificate as a branding tool. Although you most likely don’t have the option to include drawings of famous characters like the Walt Disney Company does, you can include your company logo, a picture of your facility or pictures of your products or services. Insert background images as watermarks to make sure the background doesn’t interfere with foreground text.

Step 4.

Select an appropriate font and font size. Stock certificates commonly use a cursive or script-style font such as Old English, Script or Calligraphy for the business name and title, and a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial for the remaining information on the front and the back. Choose no more than one or two fonts to avoid a cluttered appearance. Set the font size to about 48 points for the title and 11 points to 14 points for the body to make sure all the information is clear and readable


Although LLCs and privately held companies aren’t required to follow the Model Business Corporation Act, including the same information can add credibility.

If your printer can't handle the heavyweight paper required for a stock certificate, print certificates at an office supply store.