Courtesy never goes out of style. However, many people in today's casual, cell phone and email society have forgotten just how pleasant it is to receive a formal correspondence, be it an embossed thank you card, an old fashioned red, gold, and green Christmas card, or a paper and ink invitation. These more traditional methods of correspondence are regaining their popularity as simple ways to let others know that you care enough to take the time to put pen to paper. You can create graduation announcements and graduation invitations that take this extra measure of courtesy one step further, while enjoying modern convenience, by creating unique announcements and invites with the help of an online service that integrates family photographs, personal messages, and custom color schemes while maintaining high quality paper and printing standards.To ensure that they look and perform their very best, there are some basic rules of etiquette that should always be followed and some special touches that only you can add, making your correspondence both memorable and unique. Timing, content, and a list of recipients are three factors that deserve your attention when creating these mementos. Proper Timing For Graduation Announcements & InvitationsThe first step to creating thoughtful, attractive correspondence is planning. While announcements are merely informative, sharing the news of this grand accomplishment with family and friends across the board, an invitation requires some planning on the part of your guests and they should be given enough time. Generally speaking, local invites are sent out three weeks in advance. If travel or other extensive planning will be required, they should be mailed six weeks ahead of time. By ordering graduation announcements and invitations early enough, there will be plenty of time for other details, such as final exams. To save even more time, order matching thank you cards and convenient preprinted address labels. Lists Are Handy ToolsCreate different lists for announcements and invitations. Announcements go to family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, coaches, teachers, tutors -- just about everybody! This is exciting news and everyone will want to hear about it. There are two separate sets of invitations and they are handled differently. Schools have very strict rules about how many guests each grad is allowed to attend and, very often, the schools themselves provide those invitations, which tend to be very simple, elegant, and utilitarian. The graduation party invitations, however, can be as wild and crazy, innocent and sweet, modern, traditional, artistic or anything else. Invitations set the tone for any event. The words used, the color scheme selected, and the photographs integrated can completely change what people will expect at this party.A Picture Says A Thousand WordsMake your invitations and announcements 'pop' by adding family photographs that tell a story of how you reached graduation day, that show how much you have grown, or that share some of your academic activities. Clear, simple, high quality photos can transform a graduation invitation or announcement into a memento that recipients will treasure for years. The graduation invitations can incorporate academic motifs, sports insignia, school colors, club mementos, or whatever else will set the stage for your celebration. Just The Facts, Ma'amGraduation announcements should always include the grad's name, the name of the institution issuing the degree, the type of degree, and the date the degree was conferred. For invitations to the ceremony, the same information is used that was put in the announcements, with the addition of the date, location, and time of the ceremony. The date the degree was conferred should be omitted from the ceremony invitation to prevent confusion. Directions to the event can also be included, as well as information about any activities planned following the ceremony, such as a reception, party, or other get together. Invitations to the party must include the standard fare: date, day, location, and time.When addressing envelopes, the etiquette depends largely upon the formality of the event. Formal gatherings require that full names and number words be written out on the envelope, with the last name and salutation used on an inner envelope, if one is employed. Less formal gatherings still require neat penmanship, correct postage, and timely mailing.It helps your guests prepare appropriately when they know what to expect. If a meal is to be served at any of the festivities, be sure to mention that in your correspondence. An RSVP contact is mandatory, be it a formal response card enclosed with the invite, or a more casual phone number or email address to which guests can respond. Finally, buy a few extras. They are cheaper when bought with the original order and there are nearly always penmanship errors, addressing errors, and forgotten guests you simply must invite.You have worked hard to achieve this goal. Enjoy the ease with which you can create memorable graduation announcements and graduation invitations that family and friends will treasure for years.