Creating and Fine-tuning a Basic Student ID Card

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The Assignment: Make an ID Card for a Homeschool Student

Printed and self-laminated ID card
Printed and self-laminated ID card. © J. Howard Bear

My children are all homeschooled. Although we've talked about creating a homeschool student ID card for them, it's a project that always seems to get pushed to the backburner. But one daughter, Sam, needed a school ID recently in order to attend an after-hours function at a local public school.

I handed her a brand new copy of The Print Shop Deluxe 22, told her to install it on her computer, and gave her just a few basic guidelines about creating an ID card. Sam and her sisters figured out how to use the program with no trouble at all and were quite pleased with their first efforts. But after they were finished with their masterpiece, I came in and gave it a few tweaks as outlined in this walk-through -- resulting in the finished card shown above.

Products Used

  • The Print Shop Deluxe 22 (to design the card)
    (See Step 2 for more software recommendations)
  • Photo (digital photo of student)
  • Low gloss photo paper
  • GBC SelfSeal (card-size laminating pouches)

Making Your Own Student ID Card

Personal note: Our homeschool is named for my paternal grandmother, Nell Howard, who never went to high school but when she was around 70 years old she went back to school and got a GED.

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Software for Designing a Student ID Card

Creative printing and home desktop publishing programs are suitable for a many school projects.
There are many creative printing and home desktop publishing programs suitable for a variety of school projects. Images courtesy of PriceGrabber

We used The Print Shop Deluxe to create our homeschool student ID card. However, there are many other creative printing and desktop publishing software programs that are equally suited to the task. Consider some of these choices:

  • Print creativity or consumer desktop publishing software programs are ideal for school use. They are generally easy-to-use, low-cost, and full of templates and clip art suitable for a wide-range of projects including school ID cards, newsletters, presentations, signs, and posters. Top choices are:
  • Depending on how much you plan to use desktop publishing software, free may be better for you. Consider one of these free desktop publishing software programs for creating your student ID cards.
  • While InDesign and QuarkXPress may be more than you need, they will do the job. Other top desktop publishing software programs like Serif PagePlus or Microsoft Publisher are more affordable and quite suitable for a number of projects you might tackle in the classroom, home office, or for small businesses.
  • For other school projects, such as a scrapbook of the school year, school calendar, or school t-shirts consider one of these software programs for creative crafting.

Many of the major desktop publishing software publishers may offer homeschool teachers and students the same education discounts on academic versions of desktop publishing software offered to other public and private educational institutions. Check their criteria and you may be able to obtain some powerhouse desktop publishing programs for much less than the normal retail price.

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First Version: All the Necessary Elements

Initial version of ID card created by a new user in The Print Shop Deluxe 22
Initial version of ID card created by a new user in The Print Shop Deluxe 22. Image by J. Howard Bear

The initial version of the homeschool ID card contained all the most necessary parts: photo, student name, school name, address, and contact phone number.

The first thing Sam did was choose a business card template from the huge selection in The Print Shop Deluxe. It was the closest format to what she needed. After coming up with a basic layout, she and her sisters had a little photo shoot to create mug shots for their cards. Those were imported into The Print Shop and added to their cards.

As you can see here, all the text is centered, uses decorative script fonts, and there are text effects on the school name (color and outline). The girls chose the clip art (part of the collection that comes with the software) because their last name is Bear.

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New Version: Kept Some Elements, Changed Others

Makeover of an ID card created in The Print Shop Deluxe 22
Makeover of an ID card created in The Print Shop Deluxe 22. Image by J. Howard Bear

If I were starting from scratch, I would probably create an entirely different card but there were some elements that Sam and her sisters (

the clients

) really wanted to keep so I simply tweaked their initial design (OK, maybe it was more than just a few tweaks).

The elements that were kept:

  • Kept the script font used for school name
  • Kept photo on the right
  • Kept student name under photo
  • Kept bear clip art on the left

On the next two pages you can see an alternate makeover (rejected by the clients) and compare the original and final versions and learn why I made certain changes.

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Before and After: Comparing the Changes

Before and After versions of an ID Card created in The Print Shop Deluxe 22
Before and After versions of an ID Card created in The Print Shop Deluxe 22. Image by J. Howard Bear

Here's a rundown of why I made certain changes to the ID card.


  • Dropped the dark outline around the school name. It made the script typeface harder to read and without the thick border I was able to slightly enlarge the text.

  • Changed to a sans serif font for most of the text and made it bigger. The tiny script font was hard to read and it is usually best not to mix script fonts on the same page.

  • Despite what I said above, I did keep the script font for the student name -- the girls like it -- but made it larger.
    How to Use Script Typefaces Effectively
  • For all but the school name and student name, changed the alignment from centered to left-aligned and aligned the text to the left side of the card. It's easier to read and along with other changes gives the card a more balanced appearance.
    Use Centered Text Sparingly


  • Added the filled shapes (long rectangles) top and bottom. They help to box in the card and tie the elements together instead of having everything just floating around all over the card. (Proximity/Unity)

  • Enlarged the photo and placed it behind the top and bottom rectangles. The photo is a key part of an ID card so it should be prominent.

  • Enlarged, lightened, and cropped the bear clip art. The clip art is purely decorative but the larger size helps to balance the two halves of the card. (Balance) Making lighter allowed me to put the text over it and keep it readable.


  • The colors were an arbitrary choice, chosen quickly because the bear was brown. Given more time I might have made more deliberate color choices.

  • The school name was colored a darker brown than its background to keep it readable.

    On the next page see an alternative makeover version.

    For next year's ID card I may hand this assignment back to the girls for a new ID card and see what they learned from my makeover.

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    Alternate Makeover: A Little Different From The Final

    Alternate version of an ID card created in The Print Shop Deluxe 22
    Alternate version of an ID card created in The Print Shop Deluxe 22. Image by J. Howard Bear

    The girls (

    the clients

    ) didn't particularly like this variation although I preferred it over the final design.

    • The light yellow background further ties all the elements together.

    • The student name is more prominent, moved to the left side of the card. Sam and her sisters preferred the name under the photo -- looks even more like a police mug shot to me with it that way.

    • Placed the bottom rectangle under the photo. Gives the photo more prominence and it doesn't look so much like it's trapped under the rectangles.