How to Put Together Graduation Announcements

Formal graduation announcements alert friends and family to a momentous achievement. They are important because many high schools and most colleges strictly limit the number of guests who may attend the actual ceremony; the announcement is a courtesy to include interested people in the good news, although they may not be present to share the occasion in person. Announcements have a few parts to assemble and a protocol for putting them together properly.

1 The Announcements

You may be able to get your high school or college graduation announcements directly through your school or custom-order them from a distributor. Generic announcements are available at some stationery stores. Bespoke announcements are printed with the name of the school and the school seal. They may include the date of the ceremony and the logo, mascot or school motto. Customized announcements are ordered in advance and, if it's college, add the name of the graduate, the degree and the college major. Generic announcements have a card to be filled out with the graduate's name and other information.

2 The Inside

The announcement itself has a tissue overlay over the text. An individual information card, if included, goes into the slots on the announcement, which is then either folded and slipped into the inner envelope or placed inside the inner envelope with the text facing the flap, or face-up. Address the inner envelope informally with the name of the recipient -- Aunt Kate, Grandpa, or Gretchen and Hansel Forrest. Secure the inner envelope with an enclosed foil seal or leave it loose; don't lick it or tuck the flap inside.

3 The Outer Envelope

Address both envelopes, inner and outer, with blue or black ink. Insert the inner envelope into the larger outer envelope so the flaps both face the same direction. When the outer envelope, is opened the inner envelope flap will be visible. Address the outer envelope formally: Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, Dr. Helen MacIntosh. Don't abbreviate the address; write out state names and words such as "street" and "avenue." The return address, if not pre-printed, is written on the back flap or the upper left corner of the outer envelope. Moisten the gummed flap on this envelope to seal it; add a foil seal, if included.

4 Extra Bits

An invitation to a party -- printed to match the rest of the announcement -- may be enclosed in either the small or larger envelope. Write "no gifts please" at the bottom of the announcement, if you don't want recipients to feel obliged to send presents or money. Mail the announcements two weeks before graduation to those invited to attend the ceremony or a party, and up to two weeks after graduation to all others. Don't forget to send a prompt, personal thank-you note to everyone who sends a gift.

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .