What's the term for text that's both in the shape of a circle and across it?

The Creative Commons Free Cultural Works seal, pictured below, is an example of this.

The Creative Commons Free Cultural Works seal

The Creative Commons Free Cultural Works seal. By The Noun Project, I think, and licenced under CC BY 4.0. Content unmodified.

(Note that this is not intended to violate the terms of the "Creative Commons is not a party" paragraph. If it is deemed by the appropriate bodies to be an infringing use of a Creative Commons logo, let me know and I'll find a different example instead.)

Edit: I'm talking about an element that has both

  • text on the top and bottom part of a ring, or forming the top and bottom of a circle, and
  • text across the circle.

These have the convention—and distinction—of being read front-to-back rather than top-to-bottom.

  • 2
    The order in which something may or may not be read can be very subjective when dealing with artwork. I think you are looking for scientific absolutes where there are none.
    – Scott
    Sep 13, 2019 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


You used it in the question... "Seal"
Like a notary seal or a government seal
i.e. the "Seal of the President of the United States".

In some instances if the banner across it is wider
than the seal itself, it may be referred to as a "cigar wrapper".

And much the thesaurus uses would also work....
emblem, stamp, icon, symbol, marker, insignia ...
...depending upon the actual design.

Depending upon usage, it could be called a "burst", a "callout", or a "bastard element".

It's very subjective. I don't think there's a hard-and-fast, one-size-fits-all, rule as to the terminology. "Seal" is the most prolific and intuitive for an overall circle shape.

If reference is requested, the Meriam-Webster dictionary defines Seal
states under Legal Definition 1....

: a device (as an emblem, symbol, or word) used to identify or replace a signature and to authenticate (as at common law) written matter

Google's second definition states:

a piece of wax, lead, or other material with an individual design stamped into it, attached to a document to show that it has come from the person who claims to have issued it.

Dictionary.com defines seal as.....

an embossed emblem, figure, symbol, word, letter, etc., used as attestation or evidence of authenticity.

a stamp, medallion, ring, etc., engraved with such a device, for impressing paper, wax, lead, or the like:

None of these are specific to a circle or type placement. The circle itself and placement of type is merely a subjective aesthetic choice. Art, in general, does not always have exact terminology based upon some specific placement of some specific element, such as text.

Think of the term "poster". That term alone could define myriad designs from tall and thin with text vertical to short and squat with no text at all...but they all would still be defined as a "poster".

  • Notary seals don't seem to have text across them, only around and within. Government seals, including POTUS's, seem to have pictures and no horizontal text. Other seals seem to usually have text around or across, but not often both. Bursts seem to be any star-shaped loop. Callouts appear to be speech bubbles. Bastard elements I can't find. These are all nice answers, but if they (which one?) are correct, I'd have to have some sources to support them.
    – Mathieu K.
    Sep 13, 2019 at 20:58
  • 1
    @MathieuK. There is no "one correct" term. That is sort of what my answer as alluding to. It's art and it is often subjective. You won't find a definitive term merely because there is text in a circle and horizontal. It's still a "seal" or "emblem". And Notary Seals can have horizontal text as well
    – Scott
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:08
  • Now this answer has different parts. The first proposes various words, which I have objected to on the basis that they aren't what I'm talking about: text both around and across. The second gives definitions for some of the words suggested in the first part, all of which reinforces that they are not what I'm talking about. The third says there is no term for the thing I'm describing, and that I shouldn't expect one. I'd go for an answer that said "there's no term for this in the industry", if that's the answer to the question.
    – Mathieu K.
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:26
  • 2
    There's no specific terminology based upon the details you are focusing on.
    – Scott
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:48
  • 2
    Also, similarly to Scott's Notary Public seal, the official Stamps that Architects or Engineers use on drawings in most US states have circular text, horizontal crossing text, roping and stars, and horizontal dates too - they can be called "seals" or "stamps" depending upon the jurisdiction in which you reside. I agree with Scott's basic contention: no special naming AFAIK. Sep 13, 2019 at 21:51

The word you are looking for is Circumlocution. From circumference and locution. Or " words around the outside of a circle."

  • 1
    Do you have any sources for such a use of the word circumlocution? That’s not what it normally means, and I for one have never heard it used in this sense, nor can I find anything about it on Google. May 22, 2022 at 1:05

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