Sometimes someone does something really special, and you want to acknowledge it. Instead of sending a card, a certificate is a more permanent form of recognition. You can create a certificate to express your appreciation for a job well done or donations. Or you might create an award certificate to a particular employee or student who went above and beyond the call of duty. Certificates also can be handy as a memento to signify completion of a class or sporting event. Some certificates can even be used as gag gifts, such as a graduation certificate from the University of Geekdom to honor your favorite cubicle-dwelling nerd.
The trouble with certificates is that it can be difficult to find a truly customized certificate that meets your particular needs. A lot of them are pre-made templates that are boring, ugly, or some combination. So perhaps you’ve thought about making your own and then given up after you fussed with weird formatting problems. But it’s not as difficult as you might think to create a completely custom certificate in Word.
1. Set up the Page
Most certificates run horizontally, so the first thing you need to do in Word is change the page orientation to Landscape. Choose, File|Page Setup and click the Landscape button. You also change your margin settings in this dialog box. Remember to take your printer’s maximum printable area into account (note that inkjets often have uneven margins).
2. Add Borders and Shading
For a really quick certificate, you can just add a page border to your page, put text in the center, and go. It’s not the most creative approach, but it’s super easy. In Word, choose Format|Borders and Shading and click the Page Border tab. You’ll see a lot of drop-down boxes with options you can experiment with to change line widths and styles.
3. Try Picture Borders
If the line styles don’t thrill you, in more recent versions of Word, the Borders and Shading dialog box has another border option. Using the Art drop-down, you can select a number of sort of funky and weird border styles. Most of them are kind of hideous, but you never know. For certain gag certificates, a border of cakes might be just perfect.
4. Use a Your Own Border
If none of the built in border options work for you, you can use your own border. For example, I have a couple of enormous clip art collections that have literally thousands of borders. It’s easy to use a clip art border in Word. The trick to getting it to work is to treat your border like a watermark, so your text floats on top of it. More recent versions of Word have a special watermark command, but in Word 2000 you have to stuff it into the header (see step 5). To use the Word XP or 2003 watermark command choose Format|Background and click Printed Watermark. Click the Picture watermark radio button, and then click the Select Picture button. Find your border on your hard disk and click Insert.
5. The Header and Footer Trick for Word 2000
In Word 2000 and earlier versions, adding a watermark is not quite as intuitive as it is in later versions. Basically, you have to put your clip art border into the header to make it sit “behind” your text on the page. So choose View|Header and Footer. Now click the Text box button on your Drawing toolbar. Draw a text box that is the size of your page. Click in your Text box and choose Insert picture|From file. Find your border on your hard disk and add it in. As you can see, I selected a lovely retro Partridge Family border that I found in my collection of clip art.
6. Format the Text Box
Many times when you insert a text box, it has borders and/or shading applied. You’ll want to turn those off, so all you see is your clip art border. Right click on your text box and choose Format|Text box. Remove any lines and any fills that may have been applied
7. Add Text in the Document
Finally after all that inserting, you are ready to add your certificate text. If you did it correctly, your “watermark” border should be visible behind your text. See how your text now floats on top of your certificate border? You might need to press the Enter key a few times or add spacing in above to move your cursor down away from your border area. Then start typing. You can format your text using any of Words formatting commands. If you want weirdly shaped text, you also can try adding text using the Word Art button on your Drawing toolbar. It’s up to you.
Then when you’re done, print out your new certificate and amaze and astound the recipient.