What side should you wear a name tag? The evidence and the verdict.
I’ve been thinking about this whole left side vs. right side name tag etiquette debate for way too long now. I’m nerdy like that. But it’s ok- I’ve accepted it’s just who I am. Most of my friends still love me.
So, instead of just thinking on it, I decided to compile all my ridiculously extensive research and write a blog post about it. I’ll present to you the evidence I’ve collected from each side and then explain the verdict I reached. Let’s dive deep into this topic of name tag etiquette…
I’ve taught that the name tag goes on the right side in my etiquette classes for YEARS. The reason being is that when you shake someone’s hand, their eyes can naturally travel up your arm to easily read your name tag. I’d never even considered another option.
But recently, a friend’s comment made me hesitate. She had been taught (and was solidly in favor of) left side. Her argument was that when you reach out to shake someone’s hand, the movement in your arm could potentially block or make your name tag harder to read.
And, honestly, I thought she had a good point.
In my gut, I still felt right was, well, RIGHT. But I thought her argument was worthy for further discussion. I decided to try the case.
As you can imagine, this name tag research is serious science. I wanted to make sure my methods were sound and my results statistically significant. So, after careful deliberation, I did what any good millennial would do and decided to solve this debate by polling my friends and followers on Facebook and Instagram. 😉
I’m a big believer that etiquette exists for one of two reasons: to show respect or for practicality. And I assumed there HAD to be a clear answer as to which side is most practical to wear a name tag, right?
What I mainly discovered is that people feel some type of way about this whole deal.
I shall first present to you the evidence and then explain my conclusions.
You may notice I have intentionally left out a couple key arguments from my list below. Out of all the feedback I received, the two most common arguments were that name tags should be worn on x side because they are easier to see or because that’s the way the military does it. But the problem is, some people gave this reasoning for the right and some for the left!
Some folks believe when you extend your right arm to shake hands it makes it easier for your eyes to travel up the other person’s arm and see their name tag on their right shoulder.
Other people believe extending your arm actually makes it harder to see someone’s name tag if it’s on the right because it could wrinkle or block the tag. I’m still a little fuzzy on how I feel about this, myself.
Another argument I’ve omitted is, “putting it on the same side as they do in the military.” In the poll and comments, I had people give this as their reason for both right and left side. After some more research, I realized that the name tag side can vary amongst branches.
So I had to throw out this argument as well. Here are the solid reasons that remain:
Like I said, I polled my friends and followers, but I also looked to celebrities, etiquette professionals, and other industries to get a broad range of ideas. I was hoping to find some examples of world leaders, but, unsurprisingly, it’s hard to find photos of heads of state wearing a name tag.
Here are my super duper scientific results:
Well, something exciting is happening TONIGHT but I can’t say yet. It may involve me wearing a name tag. Guesses? pic.twitter.com/7pGZrNS0ep— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) February 4, 2015
I’ll be honest. I was 100% set on right-sided name tags until I saw my beloved Cambridges with their name tags on the left side. WITH a boutonniere AND a pocket square, no less. My right-sided confidence is severely shaken.
Lastly, I received these two ideas in the Facebook comments that I thought were very creative solutions to the name tag debacle. They’re worth sharing, though, I am not personally recommending them. 😂
After sifting through all the “evidence” these last few days, I’ve come to a conclusion and want to share my final thoughts. (Notice I say final thoughts, not final answers- there’s a lot to unpack here!)
I believe the best plan of action regarding name tags is to always start out on the right. It seems to be what most people expect and what most people think is easiest to read. It’s definitely the majority opinion and if I was forced to issue a verdict, I’d have to go with right.
With that being said, here are some helpful and practical reminders when deciding how to wear a name tag:
In my cotillion classes, I’ve used several different types of name tags. If you have the budget, these magnetic name badges are nice! They’re easy to attach and safe for all types of attire.
But my tried and true go-to’s are these Avery Stick-Ons. They stick great and I love how you can pop them out of the sheet to arrange on a table. Don’t forget a tiny tabletop trash can to have a place to put the trash!