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How to Make Prestigious Awards, Diplomas, and Certificates

Updated: May 23, 2019

use Vivid UV variable data for the name of the recipient
Tech High School graduation program covers foiled in orange

This month, it was a great honor to foil stamp the graduation commencement program cover for Darren’s high school alma mater, Technical High School. What a great project. We foiled the iconic tech orange in a metallic foil on a black linen paper stock. Doesn't it look sharp? This project got us reminiscing and thinking about the numerous award ceremonies that happen this time of year and the special documents that accompany them. We thought this would be the perfect time to share the great print enhancement choices available in 2019 for creating documents that fit the prestigious accomplishments they aim to award.

Pigment Foil
Pigment Foil


Hot foil stamping produces a crisp and durable impression leaving you with a premium quality finished product. Gold and silver metallic foils are classic choices for awards, certificates, and diplomas. However, there are endless color choices available for creating a unique look. See Infinity Foils selection. Beyond color, some of the other foil options include: metallic, pigment (flat or gloss), holographic, and transparent. We like using transparent foils as an alternative to UV when using some uncoated paper stocks.

Make the most of foil stamping by combining it with other print enhancements. One example is to use foil on or under UV or laminate and embossed foil. Another would be to combine it with embossing. Be sure to consult with a print finisher when combining print enhancements to make sure the best results are achieved.


Embossing and Foil Stamping
Embossing and Foil Stamping


Traditionally embossing has been seen in this arena with seals and logos. Embossing or debossing brings depth and distinction to important elements on awards, certificates, or diplomas. Combine embossing WITH foil and the result is luxurious.


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We just love Vivid UV as an option for important documents. It’s one of those go-to options you just can’t go wrong with, because it makes any piece look and feel special. Use it to highlight a logo, a decorative element, the recipient’s name (using variable data), or all of the above. Keep in mind the paperstock when choosing to use Vivid UV. We do not recommend using Vivid UV on uncoated papers.


Die Cut Logo
Die Cut Logo


Although die cutting is not used very often when it comes to awards or certificates, it has the potential to transform the entire shape of the piece. A die cut can be used to alter the corners or edges, create a shape, or a flap. Use decorative die cutting like the sample here to die cut logos, symbols, designs, etc.

Money saving tip: Check with your print finisher to see if they have a standing die that can be used at no charge. Using a standing die could save a few hundred dollars.



We couldn’t forget paper. It IS the foundation of the award after all. Quality paper for important documents is essential not just for the impression it leaves. Premium paper stocks are important for durability and long-lasting quality, as well as for ensuring ink won’t show through the other side. Most often we see textured papers such as linen and felt used for awards, certificates, and diplomas. Some of the more interesting papers we’ve seen though, include parchment and pearlized.


Another consideration…

Document Security

Another consideration we’ve been experiencing in recent years with producing special documents is security. Counterfeit degrees are a lucrative business that has become a significant problem as cases of identity theft rise. Award givers are finding that using one or more enhancements increases the security of their document by decreasing the ability of the document to be replicated. Some suggestions for reducing authentic looking reproductions, include:

  • using a foil color that isn’t popular

  • include a multi-level emboss

  • try a cost effective spot UV

  • combine foil with the spot UV

  • use Vivid UV variable data for the name of the recipient

Finally, check out this video of special documents. We hope that it will inspire you to incorporate one or more of these enhancements in the design of the next special document project that comes into your inbox.

Have a need for print enhanced legitimate diplomas, awards, or certificates? Give us a call at 320-656-0188 or email us at Visit the Kenning Partner Portal to order online. We’ll help you choose the right enhancements to create a long-lasting prestigious document.




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