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Badges are printed IDs that are worn to indicate convention membership.

Badges really have multiple purposes. They serve as a social tool to help people meet each other, and they serve as a pass for people to gain entrance to convention events and areas. They can also serve as a means of security in that they provide an ID for each member that is tied back to their registration information by their badge number, if you use badge numbers. Some people also like to use their badge holder as a place to put their room key when they're all dolled up and have no pockets.

Style and Content

Badges are designed to be visually unique for each convention and each year with the artwork that's on them, but the content is pretty consistent from year to year in the same convention.

Important: If you want members to be able to read one another's names from their badges (from a socially acceptable distance), do not print names in a font any smaller than 24-point type. Really. We mean it. Make them larger if possible. (A rule from signmaking: approximately 1 inch high letters for every 10 feet of distance) (Various people have written programs over the years to automatically use the largest font size possible for any given name in a given space.) Do make the name of the person larger and more readable on the badge than the name of the convention is.

Minimum Information to put on a Membership Badge

  • Name (This can be a Badge Name or a real name. Note: some conventions just provide a space for each member to write their own name, plus a selection of colorful pens and markers with which to do so.)
  • Some kind of artwork (see section on Security Concerns, below)

Optional Additional Information

-varies according to the size and purpose of your event

  • Real name (if above name was a badge name)
  • City and/or State where the person lives
  • Position/Title/Rank (but know that this will require reprinting badges not only for adding staff at con, but also for removing them)
  • Organizational Affiliation
  • Space for Room Party Stickers
  • Some Tag or color coding to distinguish between Adult and Child or underage Memberships. Note that while doubting someone is of age to drink if they have an underage badge is a fine thing, concluding that someone is of age because they have an adult badge is not. Continue to check ID in the consuite if serving alcohol.
  • Convention-specific nifty phrases, etc.
  • Dates the convention is being held
  • A space formated to indicate Day or Weekend memberships, usually something like

| Fri | Sat | Sun |

Where the rule is that the days the person has a membership for can be read and the other days are blacked out.

Alternatively the Day Membership badges can be indicated by special coloring (around the edge or "watermarked" behind the name) with a different color for each day, and/or by adding the day in some obvious fashion (perhaps as a colored watermark). This alternate method necessarily requires a separate membership badge for each day, but the benefit is that badge checkers can see from a distance whether the wrong day's day badge is being used.

Nifty Things to put on the Back

(all optional)

  • Program participants' schedules (can be done with a sticker)
  • Real name (if name on the front is a badge name)
  • Space for name and contact info (phone or room number) for associated adult, if this is a child badge. In any case, Ops should have this information.
  • It is a good idea to put a copy of rules or a disclaimer on the back of the badge.
    • Example from Katsucon by Seth Rosenberg, and Colette Fozard
This badge is the property of Katsucon Entertainment Inc, and the bearer of this badge agrees to abide by all rules published by Katsucon entertainment. This badge is required to gain entry to Katsucon events and must be presented upon request by any Katsucon personnel. The bearer of this badge also agrees to allow Katsucon Entertainment and its affiliates to photograph, and record audio and video of the bearer at Katsucon 11 public events. Any violation of Katsucon Entertainment Inc's attendee policies may result in the forfeiture of this badge and all rights to attend Katsucon 11 and/or future events held by Katsucon Entertainment, Inc. This badge is non-transferable. Badge artwork is Copyright 2005 Various and is used by permission and may not be duplicated with out written approval of Katsucon Entertainment Inc.

Security Concerns

Since badges are used for admission to convention spaces and events, you want to make some effort to make them hard to duplicate. Using a dark color to prevent photocopying also makes them hard to read. A common approach is to decorate the badge with artwork (typically by the artist GoH, if there is one) that will not photocopy well, either because it is in color or because the detail in it is sufficiently fine that a photocopy will look noticable worse than the original. Making the background some color other than white also creates a barrier for duplication (one more thing to match), but not a strong one in the age of Kinkos.

Any badge can be forged, so keep the needs of your convention in mind. When badge security is needed, the idea is to make it less trivial to forge the badge, not to come up with a forge-proof badge, since the latter approach will fail... and will often cause a concom more expense and debate grief than it's worth.

If you are using badge numbers for security purposes, Concom and Staff should be asked to note the Badge Number of any individual who is acting inappropriately or otherwise giving them problems. For this purpose, the badge number should be obvious and legible on the badge. If badge names are used instead of real names, especially if people are allowed to write in their badge names by hand, this may be the only piece of information on the badge that will permit Operations to identify the real person associated with a badge.

Make sure your staff all know what badges look like. If you are going to provide press passes, make sure people know what those look like too.