How to Create A LearnDash Course Certificate?

    Pranoti Panchwagh
Listen to this article

Believe it or not – A course certificate, merely a piece of paper, could land your students their dream job.

Yup. These certificates are proof of your accomplishments and your learning experience. And, especially with eLearning taking charge, the value of course completion certificates is soaring faster than jets.

Why awarding certificates is a must on your LearnDash platform

Your student’s visibility, support, and job lead increase substantially on platforms like LinkedIn when they add a course certificate to their profile.

And, that’s why awarding course completion certificates is a must on your LearnDash platform. It’s one of the most valuable things that motivate, engage, and push your learners to complete the course.

Not only that, selling course certificates while keeping your course content freely available is a great way to monetize your content. It draws a number of students to enroll in your free courses. Once a student has gone through the process of finishing a course, they often prefer to pay the fee to validate their skill with a certificate.

Now, the good news is – it’s super easy to build a LearnDash course certificate!

Okay….but, how to do that? Well, we’ll get to that in a bit.

First, what makes a great certificate?

The 8 Principles of Designing a Great Certificate

Principles of designing a certificate.

So, a certificate is not just another piece of digital paper with the bare minimum of details and boring font. It needs to be jazzy and convey the essence of the Course.

Besides, the certificates awarded should be aesthetically pleasing to the user – the whole point of an award, after all! 

Having said that, when it comes to designing a course certificate, There are eight key principles that must be followed. 

  • Emphasis – Why does your certificate exist?

What is the reason behind the issuance of the certificate? You would obviously issue it after the recipients completed a course on your site – so emphasize it in the design of your certificate. And, make it stand out with large fonts and special colors. Using emphasis in your certificates would attract the user’s attention to the most important point over and over again.

  • Balance and Alignment – Optimizing your visual flow

The next essential components for intuitive visual flow are Balance and Alignment.

Let’s go with balance first – it’s a defining principle in design that brings equilibrium throughout the content. It usually requires the writer or the creator to distribute the content in a way that one part doesn’t topple or weigh down in comparison to the other. In the context of certificates, it means that every section should have just enough content to explain it properly – no more, no less. 

As far as alignment is concerned, it refers to the edge towards which you want to structure your content. It helps any design look assorted properly while creating a sharp and clear outcome. Just as there’s left, right, and center alignment of text and elements in documents and images, there should be a proper alignment of everything in certificates too. 

To consider using alignment in your certificates in LearnDash, go through the analysis of typical user interactions with your web pages. And try to understand how people’s eyes usually follow the path from start to finish. 

  • Contrast and Repetition – Using diversity to add interest

Contrast is used when there needs to be a difference between two elements and also to add some interesting appeal to the whole thing. It helps you emphasize, it helps in making things stand out. This can be achieved by several methods such as color, hue, the flow of the content, shape, size, space, etc. 

And, Repetition, is all about reusing similar elements consistently throughout the design to create uniformity and consistency. If you cram 12 different colors into a certificate, nobody is going to like it.

Contrast adds to the element that needs to be emphasized. And the repetition of design in the rest of the elements is the recipe to strengthen emphasis and create cohesiveness throughout the design.

  • Proportion – Sizing everything up

There is no emphasis without effective use of proportion too. The real sense of proportion is to compare one element to the other in different fields. While following the principles of contrast and emphasis it’s important to not forget the principle of proportion as well. 

You should not make something too large or something too small. Proportionate distribution of all elements is necessary to ensure that you don’t end up violating the principle of balance. 

  • Movement – How does your Certificate read?

A creator with the skill to use Movement in his content has the power to force the progression of the viewer’s eyes in a certain direction (of course not in a conjuring manner). 

Use bullets, spacings, and dotted lines wherever needed to create movement and allow the user’s eye’s to trace along a particular direction on the course certificate.

  • White space – Because absence feeds affection

The attention span of the human brain is dwindling. We need breathers to assimilate what is thrown at us. The principle of keeping some white space in design achieves just that.

It acts as a visual breather to the user’s eyes as (s)he goes through the whole thing. Keep the certificate design brief with enough white space to increase the clarity of the content and the readability.

  • Hierarchy – Most important comes first

Hierarchy is the key to proceed in an organized manner. It is of paramount importance when designing an e-certificate. We use numbers, bullets, headings, and subheadings in our texts because we want the reader to go through the content in a particular order. 

A strong visual hierarchy also plays with color, elements, subheadings, font, and alignment (without overdoing it, of course) to make the user aware of the general order of progression. 

  • Unity – Bringing it all together

Unity is the final product, a harmonious blend of rhythmic principles that do not weigh visibly over one another. It’s achieved automatically when all the other principles of designing explained above come together to produce the final product.

All these principles blend rhythmically, to provide the learner with a satisfying sense of achievement from the certificate. With that in mind, let’s see how you can implement these principles in the design of your LearnDash certificate.

6 Steps for Creating and Assigning a LearnDash Course Certificate

how to create a LearnDash course certificate
Image Source – LearnDash documentation

LearnDash allows you to create a Course certificate by navigating to:

  • LearnDash >> Certificates >> Add New option

Once you’re there, here’s the step by step process you need to follow to create your course certificate:

1. Add a Title

First of all, you need to add a title for your certificate. This ‘title of certificate’ is only for your internal use. It’s only for identification and certificate management purposes actually. The students who receive the certificate can’t see it, so give any title of your choice.

2. Choose and add a template

The next step to creating a course certificate is choosing a template. LearnDash allows you to use literally any design and use it as a template or a background. Now when it comes to finding your perfect background design, you basically have two options:

  • Either you can use a pre-designed template from any of the popular designing tools (i.e. Adobe Creative Cloud, Canva, Piktochart, etc),
  • Or you can design your own if you’re a designer.

You must also know the kind of template to choose for the E-learning Course certificate. After all, you can’t be using a party background or an advertisement background for your course certificate. An ideal template should look professional with formal texts and elements.

The Header Design should be professional but also spark the curiosity of the receiver and tingle a sense of accomplishment in them. Include your E-learning site’s logo in the Header Design as well. Some examples are given below:

course certificate sample
Image Source – My Certificate Templates


learndash course certificate sample
Image Source – TemplateLab


course completion certificate example
Image Source –


Once you’ve found (or created) a professional template, save it as an image. The size of your image should not be more than 1mb, and if you want to print it on an A4 size paper then dimensions should be 11” x 8.5”.

Add the previously downloaded template as the featured image in LearnDash where you will next be adding the designs, styles, and dynamic characters to your certificate. To add it, follow these steps:

  • Click the ‘set featured image’ link in Featured Image area
  • Upload the downloaded template/ background
  • Tap the Set featured image button.

That’s it – you’ve added your featured image. Next, you may add some dynamic elements to the certificate.

3. Add Dynamic Text and Elements

The content of the certificate includes some essential information that remains the same across the various certificates, but it can also include some dynamic text and elements as per your choice and needs. These dynamic elements and texts are added to generate individual certificates for different recipients who are being awarded. It usually includes :

  • Recipient Name
  • Course Title
  • Date of Completion
  • Performance-related info
  • Badges, and any other elements that you may want to add.

Each of these dynamic elements is added with the help of Certificate shortcodes included in LearnDash. There are dozens of shortcodes in LearnDash to format almost any part of the certificate content (full list here); however, the following 4 are the most critical ones:

  • [usermeta] displays the information of the user.
  • [courseinfo] displays course info that works only with certificates that are assigned to a particular course.
  • [quizinfo] displays quiz info. This code will work only on certificates that are assigned to a quiz.
  • [groupinfo] displays group info, and works only on certificates assigned to a group.

If you want to create only a simple certificate that shows just the information of the recipient and information about the course, you can also do it with the first two shortcodes alone.

The other two come into the picture only when you want to issue a certificate only under certain circumstances (i.e. after a certain quiz has been passed, or a level has been achieved in any of the LearnDash groups on your site).

4. Format the certificate

Once you’ve added all the dynamic text and elements with shortcodes, you’re ready to play with their appearance in the certificate. You’ll need to use HTML and CSS to modify the sizing, spacing, and layout of every element. Let’s see how it can be done.

But, first, let’s discuss the spacing. There are two types of spacing you can insert between various dynamic elements of the certificate to achieve the desired layout, and they’re:

  • Vertical Spacing:

It refers to the vertical space between two or elements that are located on top of each other (i.e. the name of course, and below it the name of the student). It can be modified by adding the “line-height” property to certificate content in HTML format, something like this:

<p style=”line-height:20px;”></p>

So for example, one can paste the HTML given above between the shortcodes of course name and recipient name to insert a vertical spacing of 20 px between both text elements.

Similarly, if you want to control the vertical position of the first line of text from the top of your background image, you need to insert this HTML code before that text. The px value of 20px can be altered as per your convenience.

  • Horizontal Spacing (Indentation):

This type of spacing, as you can imagine, allows you to control the horizontal spacing between two elements or text fields. The properties required to play with it is “text-indent”:

<p style=”text-indent:200px;”>[courseinfo show=”completed_on” format=”F j, Y”]</p>

After spacing, you can also play with the font size, font family and font color of text in your certificate in a similar way. Just use the following HTML codes:

For font size:
<p style=”font-size:30px;”>[usermeta field=”first_name”] [usermeta field=”last_name”]</p>

For font color:
<p style=”color:#ffffff;”></p>

For font family:
<p style=”font-family:serif;”></p>

Hopefully, you have an idea of how each of these HTML elements can be added line by line to alter the appearance of every dynamic element in your certificate. Again, keep in mind that each of the “px” values in the code included above can be altered as per your needs until you achieve your desired layout.

5. Preview the certificate

As you play with various elements in your certificate through HTML and CSS, you’ll also want to preview your changes, right? Follow the steps below to preview your course certificate:

  • Create a test course that has not more than one lesson.
  • Complete or mark the lesson complete
  • This opens the certificate in a new tab, giving you a preview of your designed certificate.
  • Every time there’s a change in the certificate design or elements, refresh the page to get the latest updated preview.

Note: Do not forget to delete the course when you’re done previewing your certificate.

This was the last step of creating a convincing and aesthetically pleasing Course Completion Certificate. Now you can save your certificate by hitting the “Publish” button. All LearnDash certificates use the .pdf file extension, so whenever a user has received your certificate they’ll be able to download it as a PDF file.

6. Assign the certificate

The final step is to assign the certificate you created to the relevant course on your site. To do this:

  • Edit the course to which certificate needs to be assigned
  • In the Associated Certificate dropdown menu, choose the certificate you just created
  • Save the change made in the course.

That’s it! Your e-Learners will now be awarded a certificate upon completion of their course.

Wrapping up,

Well, creating a LearnDash course certificate is fairly easy, isn’t it?

While it may not be the easiest thing to do because of some HTML and CSS coding involved, it’s also not too technical that can’t be done by an average course creator.

LearnDash has a great native certificate builder and lots of LearnDash themes offer excellent Certificate template designs.

[su_note]Recommended Read: 10 Best LearnDash Themes for your eLearning website.[/su_note]

Providing course completion certificates is the need of time, so help your learners get more job opportunities with your certificates.

This will make them come back to you for enrolling in even more courses. And they may also end up referring you to other learners in their professional/academic circle; thus boosting your revenue in the process.

Having said that, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below 🙂

Pranoti Panchwagh

Pranoti Panchwagh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to our Newsletter

A key to unlock the world of open-source. We promise not to spam your inbox.

Suggested Reads

Join our 55,000+ Subscribers

    The Wisdm Digest delivers all the latest news, and resources from the world of open-source businesses to your inbox.

    Suggested Reads

    Craft the perfect eLearning experience on your LearnDash LMS

    Want to make your LearnDash LMS stand out from the rest? Customize the eLearning experience for your learners without spending $1. Use our easy-to-follow 44 LearnDash Tips and Tricks to get maximum ROI. Download your free guide now