Size of Diplomas
The first step in designing a diploma is deciding on the size of the diploma.
- a) letter size: Academic degrees below the level of College, course completion certificate, and awards are usually letter sized (8.5 X. 11) This is the most common size for a pre-printed border paper and there is a large selection. Parchment papers are also readily available in this size.
- b) 11 X. 14: College and University degrees are usually 11 X. 14 inches or larger. Compared to letter sized there is relatively little pre-printed border stock and blank papers are usually cut down from 11 X. 17 inch. Printing 11 X. 14 can be a problem. The 11 X. 17 is a standard tabloid size and it equal to two sheets of letter sized side by side. Laser printers designed to print tabloid papers have a size selection for the 11 X. 17 and treat the 11 X. 14 as a custom sized paper. Occasionally a printer will not print the 11 X. 14 size. If all attempts fail, then print on 11 X. 17 blank paper and photo copy onto the 11 X. 14 border stock. I find the 11 X. 17 prints better so I set up my 11 X. 14 sized documents on 11 X. 17 paper with an extra 3 inch margin on the right side. After printing I cut 3 inches off the right side to produce a perfect 11 X. 14 sized certificate. There are a large variety of papers available in 11 X. 17 and no blank ( non printed border) papers available in 11x 14.. One of the most desirable papers for certificates is Astroparche which is available in letter sized and in 23 X. 35 inch parent sheets. You buy the parent sheets and have the paper supplier cut them down to 11 X. 17. Astroparch is available in several colors in 60 lb text and 65 lb cover weights..
- c) 11 X 17: This is the standard tabloid paper size. It is the size of two sheets of letter sized paper side by side. (You can print a two page spread and fold it to produce a booklet that is letter sized. Multi page booklets require some thought to figure out the pagination. After assembling and saddle sticking the book is trimmed so the pages are even.) Digital silk is available in 100 lb cover weight in 11 x17. Many Index stock and papers are available in 11 X. 17.
European paper standards are :
A3 297mm X 420mm ( 11.69 X 16.54 inches) and
A4 210mm X 297mm (8.27 X 11.69 inches)
These are hard to find in the US and are usually cut from parent sheets.
There is a source of Astroparche in European sizes here in the US.
- d) Larger: Some Diploma service companies are set up to print oversized diplomas. 13 X 19 inches is the largest size paper a convenional laser printers can print.I can print in Black and white on a special laser printer. We can do 23 X 35 prints and have this size paper in stock. The Diploma Service companies use a plotter to print larger diplomas using ink jet technology.I have access to a plotter that can print on my 23 x 35 paper. Plotters are generally set up to print from roll paper, so you need one that can be sheet fed with heavier paper. Epson and Cannon have some plotters that have a straight thru path and can print on heavy papers . Some plotters can print on up to 5000g/m2. The 3rd generation plotters with pigment inks are archival inks. When the pigmentsed ink is use it dries almost instantly and on acid free paper under glass can last 200 years. Plotters are not designed to print postscript so you pdf the file for printing.
In most cases you do not need in-house printing for your diplomas of any size. Service bureaus may not have the software to print your files, but if you pdf the files they can print them without problem. Pay attention to the print commands since the may scale the image or center it automatically if those settings and not turned off. That can produce unexpected results. I once saw a printer take an 11 x1 4 certificate to be printed on an 11 x17 and printed it 3/4 X. 1 inch in the middle of the sheet.
I have always felt that diplomas were designed to be displayed on a wall.. However, there that feel that in addition to the display certificate there should be a credit card sized one laminated for the graduate to carry around in his wallet. Such cards can be made up and laminated, but must be laser printed and not have any foiling or embossing. I can't understand the need for this since the card would be so Small that it can not be read, nor can I understand the need to keep readily available proof of basic literacy.