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Free Graduation Invitations - How to Create Your Own

Updated on May 13, 2009

If you want a way to create a (relatively) free, professional-looking graduation invitation, then this is the right place to be. Along with a simple, step-by-step guide to creating your own graduation invitations, you'll also have some additional useful information on graduation songs, mottos, poems, and quotes if you want to include them in your child's graduation.

Keep in mind that there are many ways to make a graduation invitation in terms of formatting. The format I'm using is somehwhat similar to a birthday card but largegr. Nevertheless, if you wish to use a different format, this step-by-step guide should be equally as useful. So, to get yourself ready, you'll need an excellent program for the task. I've done quite a bit of research, and frankly, a lot of the programs available are complete ripoffs. They claim to have a “free” version, but they only give you partial usability, they leave a watermark, or they require you to pay for activation.

Depending on what you have already, there are two choices of programs for you to use. The first one is Microsoft Publisher. Yes, I know, it's NOT a free program. Nevertheless, most Windows computers these days come with it, so most people should have it. If you don't have it, I've also found a free alternative in McPaw Card Designer. After sending it through a gauntlet of virus protection programs, I can assure that it will not install any viruses or anything of the sort. So, before we move on, if you need to please download and install the program from download.com here.

McPaw is not as feature-filled as Microsoft Publisher (go figure), and it might look pretty simple, but it’ll get the job done. If you don’t like McPaw, this guide is so simple you can even use basic Paint or another image editing software to follow along, so long as you know how to use them.  First, though, there is an excellent video guide on Microsoft Publisher, if you want a different format (that is, you want one large page for your graduation invitation instead of a birthday-card type formatting) 

Microsoft Publisher 101

Some Good Starting Tips

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they try to print out their own invitations is the paper they use. Nothing says amatuer and ugly like generic white printer paper. It’s thin, lacks texture, and basically flops around everywhere. In other words, totally inadequate for you making a graduation invitation. So the first thing you’ll need to do is go out to Office Depot (or the amazon.com link below) and get some top-quality paper. It will cost a fair bit more than normal paper, but the result will be infinitely better.

Once you have your paper, you’ll also (obviously) need a connected printer with no shortage of ink. You’ll undoubtedly mess up many times before you get it just right, so make sure you have some standard white paper to practice on before you go and print out dozens of copies.

You’ll also need is this Graduation Invitation Template that I've made, found here. It’s plain really, but that’s exactly what is needed for our purposes.

Inkpress Watercolor Texture Matte Archival Cotton Rag Inkjet Paper, 15 mil, 200 gsm, 13x19", 25 Sheets
Inkpress Watercolor Texture Matte Archival Cotton Rag Inkjet Paper, 15 mil, 200 gsm, 13x19", 25 Sheets

This paper is some truly magnificent stuff. If you want something to stand out, this is your paper.

 

Step 1: Make Sure You're Familiar With Microsoft Publisher/McPaw

You don’t need to be a master of the software, but make sure you understand the basics of how it works. If you haven't yet, take a look at the video guide above and below for some help if you’ve never used it before. Before you go about making the graduation invitation, make some practice stuff, just to familiarize yourself with inserting text and images, and moving these items around.

Making a Flyer in Microsoft Publisher

Step 2: Find Your Image(s)!!

Directly below is what we have to begin with: a blank slate basically. From here, you need to find your image. It will be on the inside of every graduation invitation you send out, so make sure it’s fitting. One of the best ideas is, of course, a picture of the person graduating or a collage. If you have some on your computer already, fantastic. Even if you don’t, there are so many easy ways to get them on. Digital cameras can easily be attached to any computer with a simple cord, and even if you only have a picture album, find a scanner to put the picture on your computer.

Step 3: Placing Your Image(s)

You need to make sure your image is properly placed within the page. The image below is a great example of what you want to avoid. The image is scractching up against the side of the graduation invitation, creating the possiblility it will be cut off. Always try to leave a quarter of an inch at least of breathing room for any picture or text. Also, you can add a second or even a third image if you think they’ll look good together. The only limit to this part is your own creativity.

The image here is NOT correctly placed.  It is rubbing up against the left side and might get cut by the printer
The image here is NOT correctly placed. It is rubbing up against the left side and might get cut by the printer

Step 4: Writing Your Message

I can’t really tell you much about this one. This is your personal choice, how you’re going to address friends and family to attend the graduation. Once again, the same rules as the picture apply: leave some room and don’t put it right at the edge of the template. Feel free to play around with some of the more funky fonts; they’re a never-ending source of fun!!

Obviously, you'll want to add more text than I did here, but you get the basic idea.
Obviously, you'll want to add more text than I did here, but you get the basic idea.

Step 5: Making the Outside of the Invitation

 

Making the outside basically involves the same concepts as making the inside, with ONE significant difference. For the outside part, it's a bit counter-intuitive. The left side will actually be the BACK of your invitation on the outside, while the right side will be the FRONT of your invitation. If you fail to remember to do this, it will come out backwards on your printer.  Since they're switched, make sure you modify the template provided to accomodate this.  This involves just cut-and-paste switching the sides usually. 

What we’ve been making so far is only the inside of the invitation. If the outside is blank and boring, then it’ll look terrible. What we’re going to be doing is printing out the internal part, and then put our page through the printer again to print the outside part of the invitation on the same page.

This is actually a lot easier than it looks. The first thing you have to do is create a new page, whether you're in Publisher or McPaw (make sure to save the internal part of course!!. Make sure that your new page has the same formatting as your internal part.

On the left page (the very back of the graduation invitation), you can put a variety of things such as a graduation poem or graduation song. These are sometimes thought up by the graduating class as a whole, or other times can be a personal song or poem for your own invtitation. Only you can decide what graduation song or poem is applicable, but make sure it's not too long so that it won't fit.

On the right page (the front of the invitation), you have something generic like “You're Invited To A Graduation of Ricky”, or you can play with it to your heart's content. Add some words, pictures, play around with the spacing, the only thing limiting you is what you can put together.

 

HP D2560 Deskjet Printer
HP D2560 Deskjet Printer

This is a high-quality, well-priced printer from HP that would work well with nice paper in making a graduation invitation.

 

Step 6: Add Unique Details

This step is optional, but I would suggest reading through it to get any ideas. There are a few things you can add to the invitation to give it a unique feel. The first thing we'll go over is a graduation motto. Some graduation classes have a motto set for their entire class. If that's the case, adding it up top in some nice lettering can add lots of detail to a plain graduation invitation.

If the class doesn't have one, if your child has a specific quote that he/she enjoys saying, or a phrase that describes who that child is, you can add that as well. Putting something personal like a graduation quote up top will make you invitation feel more natural and personally-made rather than something generic simply spit out of a computer.

The front of the graduation invitation.  Notice now the right side will actually be the front, and the left will be the back.
The front of the graduation invitation. Notice now the right side will actually be the front, and the left will be the back.

Step 7: Test and Finalize

Now you just need to do some testing. Print out some more sample copies now that the front is done, and practice putting the paper in straight so that the back comes out perfectly aligned. If you're using Publisher, now you an take out the dividing line in the middle. It was there simply to show you a divider while making your invitation, but once it's done it can be a somewhat annoying sight on an otherwise beautiful invitation.

Conclusion

So remember, be creative!! Mess around!! See what you enjoy. There are so many things to add to your invitation: a graduation song, poem, motto, quote, and more. I wish you luck, and please, feel free to post a comment on how you felt about this article, as I'm always looking for suggestions for improvement or constructive criticism (or if you'd like to say “Hey, Great Job!” I certainly won't mind that either :)

Comments

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    • profile image

      SAMMIE 

      6 years ago

      THIS IS AWESOME! REALLY WORKED FOR ME!

    • profile image

      You are an asshole 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for giving me viruses

    • profile image

      wallo 

      8 years ago

      wow that is really cool i like it?

    • PearTreeGreetings profile image

      PearTreeGreetings 

      8 years ago from Rexburg, ID

      Great step-by-step on creating homemade graduation invitations! You definitely took the time to write a detailed guide. This should be easy for anyone to follow, even if they don't have a lot of experience using graphics software. Your suggestions (like high quality paper) were appreciated, especially since the smaller details are sometimes much overlooked.

    • profile image

      Julie 

      8 years ago

      Unfortunately, the link for the graduation invitation template in "getting started" no longer works!!

    • profile image

      vangie chapin 

      9 years ago

      This is amazing

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