Graduation How-To's

Congratulations on your achievements! While there are no official rules on how you should approach certain aspects of Graduation, here are some helpful tips to get you on your way.

Graduation Announcement Etiquette

It is proper to send announcements to family, friends, and professional acquaintances. Be sure to include these same people at any other events that might take place during this exciting time of your life.

Remember, an announcement is not necessarily an invitation to the ceremony. Announcements are intended to spread news of your graduation accomplishment. Sometimes schools must limit seating at graduation ceremonies, and you will need to enclose an admission ticket in the announcements for those who are invited to attend the ceremony. Even family and friends who will not be able to attend will appreciate getting a formal announcement of this important milestone in your life. It is not in bad form to write "No gifts, please" at the bottom of your announcements, but, remember that gifts received can help you get on your feet after graduation, and help pay for expenses associated that all important next phase of your new life.

The professional printing in traditional announcements is either engraved or thermo-engraved (raised letter printed). This adds an elegant appearance to the announcements. Some companies laser print graduation announcements. This should be avoided because laser printing may chip or crack on the heavier card stock of graduation announcements. Raised letter printing is the standard of quality for graduation announcements and should be utilized to give your announcements a truly sophisticated appearance. Top >>

Addressing Graduation Announcements

Graduation Announcements are sent in two envelopes. The outer envelope (the larger envelope with the gummed flap) should be personally addressed in blue or black ink. Use complete addresses with no abbreviations and utilize zip codes.


Mr. and Mrs. Louis Bremond
2301 South Jackson, Suite 212
Seattle, Wasington 98144

The names of the recipients should be personally written on the front of the inner envelope as if you were speaking to them. List children by name on the inner envelope only.


Aunt Rhonda and Uncle Louis

Place the graduation announcement in the inner envelope with the fold inserted first and the front of the announcement facing the envelope flap. Place the inside envelope facing toward the back of the outside envelope when inserting. Top >>

When Graduation Announcements Should Be Mailed

Announcements may be sent as early as two weeks prior or two weeks after the ceremony. If the announcement is sent as an invitation to the ceremony, it is customary to send via first class mail two weeks prior to the ceremony. Top >>

Thank You Note Etiquette

A short note of thanks - written by hand - should go to EVERYONE who has sent a gift. This note should acknowledge the gift, how it will be useful to you and should be sent as promptly as possible, typically mailed within 72 hours of receiving the gift.


Dear Aunt Diane,

Thank you for the check that you sent me for my graduation. As you know, I will be starting school soon at the Univerity of Washington and your generous gift will go a long way to help purchase text books and supplies. I hope to see you soon to thank you in person.


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Cap and Gown Ettiquette

How to properly wear your cap & gown:

Men: It is recommended that men wear dark trousers or khakis, dark socks, shoes, and a neatly-pressed, light-colored dress shirt with dark tie underneath an academic gown. Jeans and shorts, sandals and tennis shoes should be avoided. The cap is worn flat on the head. The gown should fall midway between the knee and ankle. Tassels are usually worn on the right side and shifted to the left when graduates receive their diplomas. Men should remove their caps during the school song and the National Anthem.

Women: Women graduates should wear dark slacks, dress, or skirt, and a light-colored dress blouse with dark shoes. High heels are not recommended for reasons of safety and comfort, flats or pumps are suggested. Sandals and tennis shoes should not be worn. The cap is worn flat on the head. The gown should fall midway between the knee and ankle. Tassels are usually worn on the right side and shifted to the left when graduates receive their diplomas. Women are allowed to keep their caps on during the National Anthem.

Why Do We Wear Caps & Gowns?: Source:

It all started in the often unheated buildings of the middle ages, long gowns were necessary for scholars to ward off the cold. Academic dress for graduations started in the 12th and 13th centuries when universities first began forming. Whether a student or a teacher, standard dress for scholars was clerical garb. Most medieval scholars had made certain vows, and had at least taken minor orders with the church so clerical robes were their main form of dress to begin with. In 1321, the University of Coimbra mandated that all Doctors, Bachelors, and Licentiates must wear gowns. In the latter half of the 14th century, excess in apparel was forbidden in some colleges and prescribed wearing a long gown. By the time of England's Henry VIII, Oxford and Cambridge began using a standard form of academic dress, which was controlled to the tiniest detail by the university. Not until the late 1800s were colors assigned to signify certain areas of study, but they were only standardized in the United States. European institutions have always had diversity in their academic dress, but American institutions employ a definite system of dress thanks to Gardner Cotrell Leonard from Albany, New York. After designing gowns for his 1887 class at Williams College, he took an interest in the subject and published an article on academic dress in 1893. Soon after he was asked to work with an Intercollegiate Commission to form a system of academic apparel. The system Gardner Cotrell Leonard helped form was based on gown cut, style and fabric; as well as designated colors to represent fields of study. For example green was the color of medieval herbs, and was assigned to medical studies. Because olive is close to green, was designated for pharmaceutical studies. In 1959, the American Council on Education had a Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies review the costume code and make changes. In 1986, the committee changed the code to clarify the use of dark blue for a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Top >>

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