How to Design a Graduation Program

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Graduation is a milestone for most.
Graduation is a milestone for most. (Image: graduation poster image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com)

Whether you're planning a small ceremony for a home-schooled student or have offered to design the program for a larger school or university graduation ceremony, there are certain traditionally held arrangements for the design of the program. Luckily, with computers and various software programs, you can play around and find what you think will look best, while still following tradition.

Things You'll Need

  • Software program able to design brochures, pamphlets, etc.
  • High-quality printer or printing services
  • Information regarding institution history
  • List of graduating students and honors
  • Images of institution crest

View a tutorial, if available, on your software program, that will show you how to use all available features to create professional looking programs.

Create the front page of your program by placing, in large letters, the name of the institution at the top center. Below it, insert an image of the school's crest or mascot. Type at the bottom of the page simple information regarding the event, such as the words "Graduation Ceremony," date, time and location.

Decide on or obtain a copy of the ceremony's planned schedule. This should go on the next page. Be sure to include name and titles of speakers, as well as song titles of any music being performed.

Gather information about the faculty and place it either below the schedule or on the next page. If the principal or headmaster has written a short letter to students or parents, this can go here or on the inside front cover with a picture. You can list all faculty members if you choose, or limit it to only the administration and specially honored teachers and staff.

List the graduates last in the program. This is usually done alphabetically, with special note of honors such as valedictorian or salutatorian. You can use a spreadsheet software to input all of the names in any order, then arrange in alphabetical order using the sort function. Honors and other notes are usually done in either italics or by using asterisks and footnotes.

Include advertising... or don't. Decide whether you'd like to have sponsors for the programs. If any local businesses have donated a gift or service to the graduates or their party, you may want to thank them in the graduation program. You can do this with a simple list on the back cover titled "Thanks To..." or something similar, or you can include actual image advertisements. Keep in mind that this may diminish the professional look of the program.

Center the lyrics to the Alma Mater on the back cover, above any thank-you list or advertisements you are including. This is usually sung at graduation ceremonies, so it will be helpful for guests to have a reference.

Send a draft of the proposed program to the person in charge of the graduation ceremony. Ask for feedback and any changes he would like made. Check and double-check for spelling errors.

Find a high-quality printer or printing service to create the physical programs on good quality cardstock paper. Decide on a color and thickness with the ceremony planner. Printing can be done in black and white or color, but don't make it too gaudy.

Carefully assemble and store the programs until the ceremony.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check old programs you may have around the house, and search the internet for examples.
  • Be careful of using too many extras in creating the design of the program. A large number of fonts, colors or styles will make the program look more amateur. Keep it simple and professional. For the same reason, don't use clip art.
  • Triple and quadruple check spelling, especially of names.

References

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