Ah, the power of paper. In this case, not newspaper, but a little something called a certification, meant to pad another piece of paper: a resume. Washington Post Co.'s (NYSE:WPO) Kaplan Inc. said Monday it has acquired Transcender LLC from Information Holdings Inc. (NYSE:IHI). Transcender supplies practice test software to professionals who are studying for IT certifications.

Surely, you know someone who has worked to get a certification in a hardware or software application provided by companies such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL), Sun (NASDAQ:SUNW), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO). It's one of the ways techies attempt to make themselves even more attractive to current and potential employers.

There are reasons to suspect this is a savvy move on Washington Post's part, not the least of which are hopes of increased hiring. Loads of IT workers may be about to try to distinguish themselves from the glut of resumes through a variety of certifications, and Transcender provides software to help professionals prepare for the tests.

The Kaplan business is an interesting one. Fool Bill Mann commented in early November on the skyrocketing revenues at the Kaplan subsidiary, which specializes in educational tools. At that time, the Post was expecting to generate more in revenues from Kaplan than from its flagship newspaper.

According to an SEC filing released Monday by Information Holdings, Kaplan (which, incidentally, already provides similar services) will purchase Transcender for $10 million in cash plus certain operating liabilities.

What could Washington Post gain from this acquisition? Information Holdings' latest 10-K says it believes there is $0.5 billion to $1.0 billion in annual revenues in this type of software. Although it said that there had been an unfavorable product cycle -- a lack of new systems for IT professionals to get certified in -- it forecast improving revenues related to Microsoft .NET certifications.

While the "unfavorable product cycle" might be some reason to wonder, it seems that people who see their employment options opening up might have been waiting in the wings before seeking certifications. If that is the case, Post's Kaplan subsidiary could be setting itself up for a good report card.

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Alyce Lomax welcomes your feedback at alomax@fool.com.