Q. On which side of the shoulder/chest should a name tag be worn?
M. L., Laramie, WY
A. The appropriate side to wear a name tag is on the right side. The reason is that as you extend your hand in greeting, the gaze of the person you are meeting can easily follow your extended arm back to the name tag. More important than which side is the “correct” side is that each person at an event actually makes the effort to wear the name tag. They are incredibly useful for people who are meeting many new people at once. The event organizer should do everything possible in preparing the name tags to encourage people to wear them. This means paying attention both to the way the tag is worn and to the information provided on the tag.
Tags with pins or clips can damage clothing, especially a nice sweater or silk-like blouse. Even adhesive-backed labels can leave marks on clothes. The end result is that people either don’t wear them, or clip them to waistbands, purses or briefcases where they’re not easily seen. Lanyard-style badges, while kind to clothing, can get flipped over rendering them useless. A great alternative is the magnetic clip. These clips leave no marks on or holes in clothing and have enough gripping power to adhere through sweaters and jackets as well as lighter clothing.
Information on a name tag should include the person’s name and, if appropriate, the person’s company and/or position. To be really useful, the person’s first name should be in type large enough to be seen from several feet away. That way when people are meeting and greeting, standing in a group or sitting at a table, their names are easy to read. If the person goes by a nickname, it can replace or supplement the first name: Trish (Patricia) Evans
Finally, and most importantly, names need to be spelled correctly. When a participant has to cross out a misspelled name and replace it with the correct spelling, it looks unprofessional, and the mistake reflects poorly on the event organizers.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.