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Design and Print Your Own Christmas Cards in MS Word, Part 1

greeting card

Looking for a  little DIY fun this holiday season? Open up familiar tool MS Word and create simple, beautiful Christmas and Holiday cards, and impress your family with your crafting skills.

This is the first part of a two part article. In this first section, we’ll tackle design in MS Word. In our second, we’ll cover supplies and proper printing methods to get a great look out of your dusty old inkjet.

Go Beyond Microsoft Clipart!

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One of the common mistakes of designing in Word is looking in the “Clipart” menu for graphics. While this can sometimes work, word will allow you to use many kinds of graphics as part of your artwork.

One great resource for great images is the Flickr Creative Commons. By doing an Advanced Search, you can search through hundreds of user photos narrowed by license.

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Go to the search on Flickr.com and choose the “Advanced search, or simply visit this link to go directly there.

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Use any search criteria you like. “Christmas” as a search term worked wonders for me. Simply ensure you have Creative-Commons content checked in the illustrated part of the menu. Support Free Culture!

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Another good resource is DoverPublications.com, a company that sells edited collections of public domain graphics and illustrations as clipart. They have an email newsletter with free content, often appropriate for these sorts of DIY projects.

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While not all of the art is useful, it is surprising how high quality some of it is. Dover books are often very cheap, and other than the annoyance of putting up with their newsletter, their clipart samplers are free.

Designing the Card in Word

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The initial step is to create a Landscape- oriented document that’ll print us a Half-Fold card on a regular 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. You can do this by going to “Page Layout” and adjusting the margins, setting a large margin on your left side to accommodate a left folding card. You can either create this yourself, or simply download this How-To Geek Template and save yourself the effort.

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Our First task is to add some of our photographs and clipart pics. Navigate to Insert > Picture as illustrated above.

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Pick the image that suits you best. You’ll have a lot more quality images to pick from if you use high quality images from Flickr or other sources, rather than clipart.

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Your image is added and automatically resized to fit your margins, but let’s add some treatments to make our card look more full and rich.

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Select the image with your mouse, then navigate to the area of your ribbon called “Picture Tools.”

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Picture tools should look something similar to this illustration.

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You’ll see an area marked “Picture Styles.” Click the drop-down tab, and pick one that suits you and your image. “Soft Edge Rectangle,” shown here, seems a good choice for a warm, fuzzy Christmas card.

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When you’re done, use your arrow keys to move your cursor to the top of your image and begin typing the message you want your card to say.

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Default font Calibri is not a terribly festive typeface, so use your mouse to select your text and navigate to “Home” to change the font.

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The font pictured above is Vivaldi. Use whatever fonts you have or want to take the time to install.

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The greeting in the How-To Geek font seemed too bold and out of place compared to the rest of our card front. By shrinking the point size in the home menu, we can see it becomes less gaudy and more understated.

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Ctrlenter will create a page break to continue to the inside of your Christmas Card, or simply scroll down to the new page.

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Word will use your last font by default. Keep in mind, it may not be the one you want to use!

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Using various point sizes, small and large, can add emphasis to some words over others. You can edit point sizes on the “Home” menu of your ribbon.

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Navigate to Insert > Picture if you care to add another image to the inside of your card.

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Returning to “Picture Tools,” you can select a handsome “Picture Style” for your inside art.

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The above is “Reflected Rounded Rectangle.”

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Adding some simple text below the image rounds the design out simply and nicely. You may need to shrink and blow up your pictures and lines of text in order to ensure everything you want fits onto your card front and inside. It may be frustrating, but a little DIY Holiday Cheer will prove to be worth it, in the end.


Check back for Part 2 of the MS Word Christmas Card project, where we’ll go show how to use nice paper stock and clever printing to turn your MS Word Masterpiece into a card that is sure to impress your whole family.

Image Credits: Christmas Star by brockvicky, released under Creative Commons. Christmas Time by *L*u*z*A*, released under Creative Commons. Dover Clipart assumed fair use.

Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Graphics Geek who hopes to make Photoshop more accessible to How-To Geek readers. When he’s not headbanging to heavy metal or geeking out over manga, he’s often off screen printing T-Shirts.

  • Published 12/3/10

Comments (10)

  1. Hatryst

    That is great. Not only for Christmas, but for any occasion. Awesome ;)

    I’ll be waiting for the next article, because that will hopefully clarify the difference between RGB and CMYK, and also the reason why the printed card looks different as compared to what you see on the computer screen…

  2. minnetonka

    I’m having fun right now working with your great template–that made all the difference to my trying it! Ditto on to the comment from Hatryst. Thank you.

  3. Eric Z Goodnight

    Avery has free templates for this sort of thing as well, and I tried working with them as part of this How-To. Believe me, they are impossibly hard to use. That template was my way of working around their problems. Glad it’s working for you!

  4. Anonymous

    Editor’s Note: This comment was removed for trolling. On an xmas post, no less.

  5. Hatryst

    But if you have a Mac, you can do it in iPhoto with minimal effort. Otherwise, doing it yourself THIS WAY is really nice ;)

  6. Eric Z Goodnight

    @Anonymous: I personally prefer Open Office, with the exception of doing a few tasks. I’m not “promoting” Microsoft, and I don’t have the agenda you’re theorizing. For the record, this tutorial will work just fine (with the exception of some of the MS Word specific stuff like “Picture Styles”) in OpenOffice or nearly any open standard office suite. Download the template for yourself–OO will open the docx without breaking a sweat.

  7. Fyrewerx

    Thanks for the great article Eric, but on the HTG template, when I opened the Zip file, I couldn’t find any .docx file/template. There were a lot of .xml files, and several folders, but none contained a Word template (.docx).

    Am I doing something wrong, or looking in the wrong place?

  8. Fyrewerx

    Doh! I see now…. all I had to do was change the extension of the file from .zip to .docx.

    Sorry.

  9. Eric Z Goodnight

    @Fyrewerx: Sorry I didn’t get to help you sooner, but it seems like you were able to get it done without any intervention by me!

    I couldn’t replicate your problem, however. It downloaded as docx and gave me no trouble when I opened it. I don’t think I could have helped you, because of this. Strange it downloaded as a ZIP.

  10. Bob Walsh

    Another well done from How-to-Geek. Thank you

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