What side should you wear a name tag? The evidence and the verdict.


Some links in my blog posts are affiliate links.


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.

Two arguments I tossed from the very beginning

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!

#1 – Name tags should go on the x side because it’s easier to see.

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.

This image from ThresholdSecurity.com illustrates this right-side argument.

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.

#2 – Name tags should go on the x side because that’s the way the military does it.

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:

The Case for Right-Sided Name Tags

  • Doesn’t interfere with any of the accessories that are typically worn on the left (lapel pins, corsages, boutonnières, pocket squares, etc)
  • Doesn’t cover any company logos that are most often on the left

The Case for Left-Sided Name Tags

  • Easier for right-handed people to pin on
  • Normally where the pocket is, ergo, an easy place to clip

What did the people have to say?

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:

People/sources who agree that Right is Right

  • 61% of the friends and followers who commented or voted in my poll. It was definitely the majority, but not quite as strong a majority as I was anticipating.
  • The Emily Post Institute AND Miss Manners (two heavy hitters in the etiquette world)
  • ALL SIXTEEN etiquette trainer friends that I asked. There wasn’t a single one I spoke to who teaches left. This is pretty significant to me.
  • Google
  • FFA Official Dress (showing my agricultural roots here, but if you’ve ever had the privilege of donning the blue jacket, you know official dress is THE LAW).
My cousin, myself, and my brother at the 2007 National FFA Convention.

Now for people/sources who agree that Left is Best

  • 39% of friends and followers who voted in the poll
  • Myka Meier (a BIG player in the modern etiquette industry)
  • Brad Pitt. Not particularly known for his etiquette skills, but a generally likeable guy and one of the only celebrities I could find wearing a name tag.
  • Reese Witherspoon. A little more credible than Brad Pitt in that she did write a book that has an entire chapter dedicated to dinner parties and proper table settings.
  • Disney. The employees at Disney and a lot of other people in the hospitality industry are instructed to wear it on the left. However, it’s worth noting that I’ve also been told by a friend in the hospitality industry that the reason it’s worn on the left is to designate a service role.
  • And here’s the kicker for me… Will and Kate.

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.

Would not recommend…

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. 😂

  1. Wear the name tag in the middle.
  2. Wear one on each side.

Verdict: Start out with your name tag on the RIGHT

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:

  1. Keep it pinned high up on your shoulder.
    This will help with the possibility of your right arm blocking the tag and it is also helpful for ladies to avoid drawing attention down to your chest.
  2. Switch to the left if needed.
    If you think your outfit or hairstyle or arm motions will impede someone’s view of your name tag, just make the switch. (And next time we’re over in England to meet the royals, we’re definitely going with left, ok?)
  3. Remember: name tags are secondary.
    It’s still most important and most personable to give a verbal introduction (and listen carefully for the other party’s introduction). Name tags are supposed to be an aid, not a crutch.
  4. In this case, practicality above all else.
    When in doubt, go with what you think will be the most visible. Any name tag is better than none!

My Favorite Name Tags

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!

Etiquette, Thought-Provoking


Some links in my blog posts are affiliate links.


Can you?!


Can your kid answer these 10 etiquette questions?

follow along:

are we connected on sociaL?