How to Make a Greeting Card

Use page layout or custom greeting card software

A greeting card you make yourself is more meaningful to the recipient and just as attractive as any store-bought greeting card if you apply a few simple graphic design principles. Follow these steps to make a greeting card in any software.

Use Appropriate Software

If you are already familiar with the operation of Publisher, Pages, InDesign, or other professional desktop publishing software, use it. If you are new to desktop publishing and your goal is to make greeting cards, consider consumer software like Photoshop Elements. Most software comes with plenty of clip art (stock illustrations) and templates you can customize.

Pick a Format

Birthday greeting card templates.

Think about the kind of greeting card you want to make: funny, serious, oversized, top-fold, or side-fold. Having a vision ahead of time speeds up the process, even if you use templates straight from the software.

Set up the Document

If your page layout or greeting card software has a blank template or wizard for the style of greeting card you want, use it to set up your greeting card. Otherwise, create a layout from scratch in the desired size. For a top-fold or side-fold card printed on letter size paper (rather than other types of specialty greeting card papers), create a folded dummy and mark the front, inside front, message area, and back of the greeting card.

Choose Graphics

Stick with one image or stock illustration. Some clip art has a cartoonish appearance. Some styles suggest modern, while other clip art has a distinct '50s or '60s air about it. Some images are fun, while others are serious or at least subdued. Color and types of lines, and the amount of detail all contribute to the overall style. To keep it simple, choose a single photo or illustration to go on the front and put the text message inside. 

Modify the Images

Some pictures work without modification, but changes in size and color can make an image work better for your greeting card layout. You can also use color and frames or boxes with different images to create a unified appearance.

Select a Font

Headline Font Examples

Stick with one or two typefaces. Any more is distracting and tends to look amateurish. You want the type to convey the same tone or mood as the rest of the card, whether it's formal, fun, subdued, or in your face. You can change the font color to contrast with the paper color and other graphics, or pick a color that appears in the clip art to tie the two together. Black is always a good choice.

Arrange Text and Graphics

Even in a simple greeting card, use a grid to align objects. Draw boxes or horizontal and vertical guidelines to help you align edges. Not every inch of the page has to have clip art or text. Use the grid to balance out the white space (empty places) on your card. In brochures and newsletters, you don't want a lot of centered text, but in a greeting card, centered text is perfectly acceptable and a quick way to go when you aren't sure what to do.

Create a Consistent Look

Choosing Colors from the Color Wheel

As you tweak the front and inside of the greeting card, aim for a consistent look and feel. Use the same grid and the same or complementing graphics and fonts. Print out the front and inside pages and place them side by side. Do they look as if they are part of the same card, or like they don't belong together? You want consistency, but it's OK to throw in some contrasting elements.

Add a Credit Line

You've just created your masterpiece. Why not take a bow before hitting the print button? One way to do this is to use the card's back to credit yourself with the design. If you are making greeting cards for a customer or selling direct, you may want to include your business name and contact information, but keep it simple. If you are working with a client, make sure that the credit line is part of your agreement.

Proof and Print the Greeting Card

When it comes time to print the final greeting card, don't forget that final proof. Before putting your creation on expensive photo paper or greeting card stock, print in draft mode on lightweight copy paper.

  • Check text, graphics, and layout.
  • Check margins and alignment.
  • Fold the proof and make sure everything lines up correctly.

If you're printing multiple copies of the final card, first print just one at high quality on the desired paper. Choose a heavier paper than copy paper but is lightweight enough to fold easily (and run through your printer). Check color and ink coverage. Then print, trim, and fold, and you're finished.

Browse Free Greeting Card Templates for inspiration.

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